Recognizing Exceptional Asthma Programs

May is Asthma Awareness Month! Did you know that nearly 26 million Americans, including seven million children, are affected by this chronic respiratory disease? And, did you know that low income and minority populations have the highest asthma rates? Each year, EPA takes this opportunity to ramp up our public awareness campaign, strengthen our partnerships with community–based asthma organizations and highlight exceptional asthma programs.

This year we’re recognizing health plans, health providers and community-based programs with our National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management  for their important contributions to close the gap in asthma disparities. It is the only national award program that recognizes organizations for exceptional leadership in developing and delivering environmental asthma management as a key component of asthma care. I am proud to recognize the organizations from Georgia, Massachusetts and Oregon for the impact that they are having on their communities:

Peach State Health Plan, Atlanta, Georgia is a statewide Medicaid managed care organization. Its teen-focused asthma program employs multi-media, bilingual education and innovative incentives to help more than 700 teens annually improve medication compliance and self-management, and reduce unplanned healthcare utilization and asthma severity. The Plan delivers stratified disease management services, including health coaches and environmental, medical and social supports delivered in-clinic, at home and at school. Peach State estimates the program saves approximately $319 per member per month by reducing hospital admissions and rescue medication use.

Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts is an academic medical center that delivers the Asthma Prevention and Management Initiative (APMI) to a densely populated Asian community with disproportionately high asthma rates. The APMI connects clinical providers with local asthma education and environmental home visit programs, community leaders, and local schools to help children with asthma and their families to improve asthma outcomes. APMI has achieved impressive impacts including decreased urgent care and hospitalizations for asthma, increased school attendance, decreased environmental trigger exposure in homes, and decreased asthma burden in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, Oregon, runs a healthy homes program in coordination with a large group of partners, including community-based organizations, medical providers, case managers and community health workers. Working together, the partners identify and deliver in home asthma care, and environmental assessments and interventions to moderate and high-risk children with asthma. The program has reduced by 2.5 times the likelihood of emergency room visits for children with poorly controlled asthma resulting in approximately $350,000 in annual healthcare cost savings. In addition, the program demonstrates reduced exposure to in-home environmental triggers.

Congratulations to these extraordinary programs! I am proud to be part of their efforts to improve the lives of people with asthma in communities across the country and I wish them continued success as they implement these important initiatives.