Bipartisan Members of the House Asthma and Allergy Caucus Introduce Family Asthma Act

October 8, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (October 8, 2019) - Today, Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-07), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY-16), Fred Upton (R-MI-06), and Pete King (R-NY-02),  all members of the House Asthma and Allergy Caucus, introduced the Family Asthma Act, legislation that would expand federal, state, and local efforts to improve care for individuals with asthma.  U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) intends to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

According to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 million people live with asthma in the United States, including more than 6 million children. Asthma disproportionately affects women and minority communities with African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Puerto Ricans, and multiracial individuals generally having higher rates of asthma than non-Hispanic whites.  Individuals living in poverty, as measured by the federal poverty line, are also more likely to suffer from asthma.  Additionally, this respiratory disease takes a significant toll on the economy, costing the United States nearly $82 billion, including indirect costs in the form of missed days of school and work.

“Asthma affects a disproportionate number of individuals in Baltimore. For example, an estimated one-third of high school students have been told they have asthma.  But asthma is not isolated to Baltimore--it affects children and adults across my district, Maryland, and the entire nation.  We must do everything we can to address this dire situation,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings.  “I am proud to introduce this bill to help gather the data needed and provide information and education to the public to help people living with asthma.”

“As Co-Chair of the Asthma and Allergy Caucus, I am pleased to join Congressmen Elijah Cummings, Pete King, and Fred Upton, Members of the Caucus, on this bipartisan legislation that will improve care for Americans living with asthma,” said Congressman Eliot L. Engel.  “This legislation will further strengthen the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program, which the Caucus has long championed, by providing the agency and local health departments with resources to support programs to address asthma.  If enacted, the Family Asthma Act would most benefit communities disproportionately affected by this disease such as the Bronx in my district.”

“More than 780,000 adults in Michigan live with asthma, making the Family Asthma Act such an important piece of legislation for our state and for the 25 million people across the nation living with asthma,” Congressman Fred Upton said.  “By raising awareness of asthma and allergies, we hope to advance opportunities for treating those conditions and educating the public about symptoms.  I’m proud to serve as co-chair of the Congressional Asthma and Allergy Caucus, and to introduce bipartisan legislation that would truly make a positive impact for tens of millions of Americans.”

“It is imperative that we do all that we can to improve the care and resources for those living with asthma, especially those who are economically disadvantaged,” said Congressman Pete King.  “I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure the Family Asthma Act becomes law.”

“Asthma remains an urgent public health issue that affects every community in our nation. The Family Asthma Act will ensure a coordinated nationwide public health response to support the health of the 25 million American children and adults living with asthma.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a full and healthy life, and the American Lung Association is proud to support this important legislation and is committed to working to ensure it becomes law,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO, American Lung Association.

“Families USA, a co-convener of the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition, is pleased to support the Family Asthma Act, which takes important steps to reduce the incidence of asthma for children and families.  The bill would help coordinate and amplify public education around asthma and state plans to reduce its prevalence.  It would also create a national surveillance program on the severity and prevalence of asthma, the effectiveness of public health interventions, and the quality of asthma management.  Asthma remains one of the most pressing, costly, and persistent public health problems, affecting more than 25 million people in the United States, including over 6 million children.  We thank Representatives Engel, Cummings, Upton, and King for their leadership on this issue,” said Lisa Shapiro, Chief of Staff and Director for Children’s Policy, Families USA.

The Family Asthma Act expands the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program to serve all 50 states and directs the CDC to collaborate with state and local health departments to provide information and education to the public regarding asthma.  It requires the development of state plans around public health responses to asthma, particularly for disproportionately affected populations, and requires the collection and coordination of data on the impact of asthma.

Click here for the bill text.