Great Strides in July 2020 for People With Asthma and Allergies
AAFA has made great strides this month in advocating for policies that protect people with asthma and allergies. The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act (H.R. 2468) and the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act (H.R. 2117). These have been top priority issues for our organization and we're excited for this progress!
UPDATE 7/31/20: The House has approved a $3-million increase in appropriations (funds) for the National Asthma Control Program (NACP). They also approved $1.5 million for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), mainly for food allergen labeling. The House also urged the FDA to act quickly to require labeling for sesame, the same as other major food allergens.
School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act (H.R. 2468)
This act would ensure that school nurses, staff and administrators are prepared to help students with allergies and asthma excel at school in a safe environment. The bill provides extra preferences for asthma and allergy grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for states that put comprehensive asthma and allergy programs in place in their public elementary and secondary schools. It would encourage states to have:
- A method to identify all students with allergies and/or asthma
- Individual student action plans
- Allergy and asthma training for school staff responsible for these students
- A school nurse or other trained staff on site during operating hours
- Efforts to reduce environmental triggers
- A system to support the students
Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act (H.R. 2117)
This act would require the CDC to collect more information on the prevalence of food allergies for specific allergens in the United States, such as through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This act would also expand the definition of major allergens to include sesame. It would direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the economic costs of food allergies in the United States, both for individuals and for the food allergy population overall.
$3 Million Additional Appropriation in 2021 for the National Asthma Control Program (NACP)
Administered by the CDC, the NACP is a program that awards grants to states, territories and municipalities. It is currently funding community-based asthma programs in 22 states, Puerto Rico and Houston, Texas. The program has been highly effective, helping decrease asthma deaths by 41%, despite growing asthma rates.
$1.5 Million Appropriation for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) for Work Related to Allergen Labeling
Due to COVID-19, FDA allergen labeling efforts are delayed. About 1.5 million Americans say they are allergic to sesame. Nearly one-third of adults with sesame allergy have been to the emergency room in the past year. This is more than adults with any other major food allergy.
Yet the FDA feels it would not be able to develop rules for sesame labeling for another 5 to 7 years, even after putting out a request for information in 2018. AAFA and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) worked directly with Representative Doris Matsui’s (D-CA) office to send a letter with other representatives to the House Appropriation’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies asking for funds and action on sesame labeling.
Next Steps for Legislators and Advocates
The next step is for the House to vote on these bills. H.R. 2468 is also expected to receive a vote in the near term. We will keep you posted about H.R. 2117. The appropriations bills are expected to go to the floor in the next two weeks.
After these bills pass the House, the Senate will also have to pass them before sending them to the President. The Senate Appropriations Committee will propose its own funds for the NACP and CSFAN. Then the House and the Senate will negotiate the two appropriations bills to determine final spending levels.
Stay tuned for updates on these and other advocacy issues. And look out for an action alert to contact your senators about H.R. 2468 once it passes the House.
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