Assembly Bill 391 (Chiu), successfully passed out of the Assembly Health committee with bipartisan support (11-0). The bill is co-sponsored by CPEHN and the Regional Asthma Management & Prevention and Children Now, and it will allow California to better deliver care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries with asthma by adopting policies to expand access to cost-effective preventative care and provide healthcare workforce opportunities for communities of color.
Asthma is a significant public health problem and driver of health care costs. Over 5 million Californians have been diagnosed with asthma[i] -- about 1 in 7 state residents. Asthma is of particular concern for low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal. Low-income populations, like the nearly two million Medi-Cal beneficiaries who have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives,[ii] have higher asthma severity, poorer asthma control, and higher rates of asthma emergency department visits and hospitalizations. [iii] In 2010, Medi-Cal beneficiaries represented 50% of asthma hospitalizations and 42% of asthma emergency department visits, even though they represented only 30% of Californians. [iv]
At Covered California’s latest April Board meeting, Executive Director Peter Lee declared: “We are raising the bar not just for California but for the nation.” Mr. Lee was referring to the bold initiatives adopted by the Covered California board that they expect will improve quality of care for Covered California enrollees, make advances in hospital safety, and promote primary prevention and wellness. The contracts will include 45 separate distinct requirements on plans focused on improving health outcomes for Covered California enrollees (See Attachment 7).
Starting in 2017, Covered California’s contracts will require health plans to demonstrate year-over-year reductions in health disparities in four targeted areas of chronic disease: diabetes, asthma, hypertension and behavioral health. In order to accurately measure disparities, health plans will be required to share quality and performance data for all their lines of business. Additionally, plans will be required to increase the percentage of self-reported demographic data for their Covered California enrollees with a goal of 80% of enrollees reporting by the end of 2019.
This originally appeared in an email blast from Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP).
RAMP and the California School-Based Health Alliance are pleased to announce the development of a new tool — the Asthma Environmental Intervention Guide for School-Based Health Centers. The purpose of this guide is to support school-based health center (SBHC) staff in leading or supporting evidence-based strategies and promising practices to reduce exposure to environmental asthma triggers. Although there is a broad array of evidence-based interventions to address asthma triggers, many people with asthma continue to be exposed to the factors that make their asthma worse. SBHCs are uniquely positioned to address this gap in order to help children breathe easier. While many SBHCs across the country are already playing a key role in helping students manage their asthma by providing quality clinical care and education there is an opportunity for SBHCs to also be leaders in managing the environmental factors that make asthma worse.
The guide describes the relationship between asthma and a number of environmental asthma triggers and shares scientific evidence that SBHC staff can cite when educating others on the need to address environmental asthma triggers. This is followed by five sections each tackling a strategy, or broad category of intervention, that SBHC staff could lead or support. They include:
The American Lung Association State of the Air 2015 report, released last week, showed that while progress has been made, California continues to have some of the worst air pollution in the country. In fact, 28 million Californians live in counties where ozone or particle pollution levels can make the air unhealthy to breathe. (Click on the map to enlarge.)
Covering air pollution data from 2011-2013, State of the Air 2015 shows that California cities still dominate lists for the most polluted areas in the nation for ozone (smog) as well as short-term and annual particle pollution (soot). Several cities had both higher year round averages and unhealthy days on average of particle pollution driven largely by drought weather conditions.
Specifically, of the top ten cities in the nation with the worst air pollution, California metropolitan areas rank as follows:
We all know a healthy school environment is vital for learning. When you consider that between students, teachers, and staff, one in five Californians spend their day at a school, it becomes clear just how important school environments are to the health of families all across the state. Unfortunately, environmental health concerns in California’s classrooms are all too common, especially in low-income communities and communities of color – often the same communities we find the most glaring health inequities in conditions such as asthma.
Ironically, some of these concerns stem from the very products used to keep the school clean. School children and staff are unnecessarily exposed to chemicals commonly found in traditional cleaning products. These chemicals have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems, cancer, reproductive and neurological harm, and hormone disruption, as well as environmental concerns such as water pollution, smog, and damage to the ozone layer.
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Roughly one out of every seven Californians has been diagnosed with asthma. With such high rates, this chronic condition impacts all communities across the state. Luckily, there are a bunch of great organizations working in California to raise asthma awareness.
Among these organizations is Breathe California, which focuses on fighting lung disease, improving air quality, and promoting public health. One of Breathe California’s initiatives is a workshop, All About Asthma, that focuses on working with parents and providers to recognize asthma symptoms and treat the condition early.