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New legislation helps states protect students with asthma and allergies nationwide

Washington, D.C., Jan. 5, 2021 — Today the president signed H.R. 2468, the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act into law. This bipartisan legislation will help millions of U.S. children manage asthma and food allergies at school. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is proud to have led the charge on the bill from the beginning.

H.R. 2468 encourages states to improve allergy and asthma care in schools by giving preference for federal grants to states that adopt certain management programs and policies. The policy recommendations are in keeping with AAFA's State Honor Roll. To recap, states can earn financial rewards for putting the following in place:

  • Methods to identify all students who have allergies or asthma
  • Create individual student action plans
  • Require school nurses or on-site trained staff during operating hours to administer medicines for both asthma and allergies
  • Asthma and allergy training education for school staff
  • Efforts to reduce indoor asthma and allergy triggers
  • Coordinate management of care with families and health care providers

“We’re thrilled to see a top policy priority AAFA’s been working on for years with Congress become law. This legislation will help achieve long-term health goals inside of schools. It will also help bridge health and achievement gaps by race. Asthma is more common in Black and Hispanic children leading to more missed school days compared to their white classmates. Healthier school environments mean improved outcomes and more time learning,” said AAFA’s CEO and president, Kenneth Mendez. “This legislation also comes at a time schools are balancing academics with managing a pandemic. With all of the inequities COVID-19 has laid bare, policy that can only boost the health and safety of students and teachers is coming during a time when we need it most.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 6 million U.S. children have asthma. An estimated 5.6 million suffer from food allergies, or a combination of both food allergies and asthma. Poorly controlled asthma and severe allergic reactions can be fatal. Asthma is currently the most common chronic disease among children. It is the leading cause of missed school days for students under age 18.

We’re grateful to our colleagues at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) for their tireless work on this. H.R. 2468 is based on AAAAI’s Asthma, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Program, also known as SA(3)MPRO™. AAFA is happy to have collaborated on and endorsed SA(3)MPRO™.

AAFA would also like to once again extend thanks to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Phil Roe (R-TN) for their unwavering leadership on the bill and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for moving H.R. 2468 through the Senate.

Our patient and family community also played a major role in making this happen. AAFA’s grassroots efforts led thousands of families who are impacted by asthma and allergies across the nation to get involved and contact their legislators. Community members can continue to support AAFA’s advocacy work with a secure donation here: AAFA Advocacy For School Health

quote from Kenneth Mendez, AAFA President, healthier kids at school means less missed school days

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Thanks for your comment Milli. Both of these factors are important.

Racial and ethnic minorities along with poor and low-wealth children in the U.S. suffer the harshest inequities among those living with asthma and/or food allergies. Asthma is the leading cause of missed school days. This not only makes more Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous children more vulnerable to serious health complications, it also puts them at an unfair academic disadvantage.

Resources supporting healthier school environments makes a difference. Children typically spend most of their time inside of schools. H.R. 2468 is designed to expand resources to reach more children in the greatest need.

Our report, Asthma Disparities in America: A Roadmap to Reducing Burden on Racial and Ethnic Minorities goes in-depth on environmental factors contributing to harmful inequities in diagnosis, treatment and outcomes. If you haven’t seen it, we suggest you take a look. AAFA is not only dedicated to asking, looking and investigating but taking direct actions to significantly reduce, if not eliminate disparities in care. We hope you will join us by bringing your passion to the cause.

Kafi Brown

If it's a class problem then it's an environmental problem. The children may be more likely to live in dilapidated, aging structures with potential repeated water problems. If the Aafa really cared about doing something it would start investigating the walls/structures those children are living in rather than invent more white colored jobs for itself. Did you make any provisions for researching the structures those kids sleep inside of? No, of course not, don't ask, don't look, don't investigate, your kids will never sleep in there but I do hope you all spend the day giving some serious adulations to yourselves! 

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