Children with uncontrolled asthma in Missouri have a new option to stay healthier. The law that makes this possible will save the state thousands of dollars.
Under the law, children with uncontrolled asthma enrolled in Missouri Medicaid can receive one hour of asthma education and two asthma environmental assessments in the home per year.
Children are eligible if they have had, as a result of asthma in the last 12 months:
- 1 or more inpatient hospital stays, or
- 2 or more emergency department (ED) visits, or
- 3 or more urgent care visits, or
- a high use of quick-relief rescue inhalers defined as 4 or more prescription refills, or underuse of controller medicines (inhaled corticosteroids) defined as missing 4 or more refills based on their enrollment months, and at least one ED or urgent care visit.
We recently spoke with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, St. Louis Chapter, which campaigned for the law, to find out more about it:
AAFA National: How many children is this new law expected to help?
AAFA St. Louis: We estimate about 4,000 children.
AAFA National: What happens during an asthma environmental assessment during a home visit?
AAFA St. Louis: Time is spent with the family asking questions about the child's asthma. We check the home for asthma triggers for the child. Also, we test the air for air particles, carbon dioxide level and air quality. The assessment lasts from one to two hours.
AAFA National: What does the family learn during the one hour of asthma education?
AAFA St. Louis: During the one-hour asthma education session, we teach proper use of an asthma inhaler. We show a hands-on demonstration. We create and review an asthma action plan. Reinforcement of the lessons happens over and over.
AAFA National: What are some of the challenges you are facing?
AAFA St. Louis: The big challenge is getting the word out about the program and letting doctors and clinics know it is available.
AAFA National: How much money is saved in inpatient hospital stays, emergency department spending, and other health care spending as a result of this program?AAFA St. Louis: The children with uncontrolled asthma cost the state around $20,000 in Medicaid costs per year. By comparison, those costs for a child with controlled asthma is around $5,500 per year. (And for any child on Medicaid, estimated health care costs are even lower - $4,000 annually.) There is an estimated 60-80% decrease in the costs for a child with asthma when we conduct healthy home assessments and asthma education.
AAFA National: Are there any estimates on how many lives could be saved by a program like this?
AAFA St. Louis: We've never seen a number like this. Even if one life is saved, it is worth it!