As 2022 comes to an end, we wanted to reflect on another year of great advocacy efforts for people living with asthma and allergies. We had another successful virtual fly-in to Capitol Hill. AAFA’s top advocacy priorities continue to center on:
- Health equity
- Access to care, medicine, and coverage
- Healthy settings for people with asthma and allergies
- Clean air and the health impacts of climate change
- Food allergies
- Funding for federal programs that benefit people with asthma and allergies
Healthy Schools and Child Care Centers
Safe and healthy environments in school and child care settings are essential for our children with asthma, allergies, and food allergies.
A major advocacy focus of 2022 was the landmark Inflation Reduction Act. There were many competing priorities that different stakeholders hoped to see in the large legislative package. Fortunately, AAFA successfully advocated for $50 million to be included in the final law for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address air pollution in schools.
Throughout the year, AAFA met with key officials in the White House, Congress, and the EPA to ensure that clean air in schools and safe learning environments remain a top priority. In fact, on Oct. 11, AAFA’s CEO and President Kenneth Mendez spoke at the White House Summit on Indoor Air Quality where he highlighted the critical importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) for school-age children with asthma and allergies.
Major gaps in child care protections for children with food allergies exist in the United States. To help address these gaps, AAFA partnered with the Elijah-Alavi Foundation (EAF) to publish “Child Care Policies for Food Allergy: Elijah’s Law Report for U.S. States and Territories” report this year. The report includes two parts:
- Review of state-level policies protecting children with food allergies in child care programs
- Toolkit for advocates to support Elijah’s Law in new states
Elijah’s Law is a bill named in memory of Elijah Silvera. On Nov. 3, 2017, 3-year-old Elijah died after a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis at his child care center.
Elijah’s Law was first passed in New York and Illinois. This year, AAFA and EAF focused advocacy efforts in Virginia and California. Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Elijah’s Law into law in Virginia on April 11, 2022. California’s Elijah’s Law also made progress this year but fell short of being signed into law. AAFA and EAF plan to reengage in California and beyond next year!
Clean Air and Climate
AAFA continues to support clean, safe air for everyone. In August, Mendez and other health and medical association leaders met with EPA administrator Michael Regan. Our groups urged EPA action on:
- Stronger national standards for ozone and particulate matter
- Transition to zero-emission vehicles
- Limits on methane pollution
- Ensuring environmental justice
Throughout the year, AAFA met with other administration officials. We urged action on these items, as well as stronger fuel standards and limits on other harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry.
On Dec. 20, the EPA finalized the strongest-ever national clean air standards to cut emissions from heavy-duty trucks. These new standards are estimated to result in 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma and 3.1 million fewer cases of asthma symptoms and allergic rhinitis symptoms.
The Inflation Reduction Act also included a major investment of $369 billion to fight climate change. The funding covers incentives for businesses and people to make cleaner energy choices and investments in communities that will promote environmental justice.
Toolkit for Asthma and Allergy Advocates
AAFA’s 2022 Asthma CapitalsTM Report included an advocacy toolkit. It is our hope that this toolkit helps spur action now and in the future. The toolkit includes:
- Taking action at the state and local level
- Contacting your legislators
- Addressing legislators
- Tips for communicating with legislators and their staff
- Sample letter to your state or local legislator
AAFA is looking forward to next year and continuing to progress our legislative and regulatory priorities. There is a new Congress to engage and new opportunities to advocate for the asthma and allergy community.
You can help us by becoming an advocate and signing up for our action alerts. This will keep you informed of our advocacy work and let you know when we need your advocacy support.
Your year-end gift to AAFA will give us momentum going into 2023 so we can continue to educate and provide support to families, advocate for patient rights, and fund critical patient-centered research. AAFA is committed to a better 2023 for people with asthma and allergies. Will you join us?