For Immediate Release - November 19, 2014

AG Coakley Provides $1.75 Million to Massachusetts Department of Public Health for Asthma-Related Programs

Funding to Improve Outcomes for Asthmatic Adults and Children in Massachusetts

BOSTON – In an effort to improve outcomes for asthmatic older adults and children living in high risk communities with documented health disparities, more than $1.75 million has been provided to the Department of Public Health (DPH) to fund new programs in Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“In Massachusetts, thousands of children and older adults are diagnosed with asthma, and this funding will help to greatly improve their quality of life,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased to help facilitate this grant and look forward to the Department of Public Health’s efforts in providing policy development and asthma-related programs in communities that need it most.”

“Asthma is a significant public health problem in the Commonwealth,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, RN. “This funding allows Massachusetts to address the needs of vulnerable populations in innovative ways, by testing pioneering models for the delivery of home-based care for older adults with asthma and building on the work of the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund to increase local policies that improve the home and school environments for children with asthma in high-risk communities.”

The funding is the result of a multistate settlement with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, LLC over allegations that it unlawfully promoted its asthma drug, Advair, and antidepressant drugs, Paxil and Wellbutrin.

The Interagency Service Agreement (ISA) with the AG’s Office, enables the DPH to create and support a pilot study to improve the lives of asthmatic adults as well as community based initiatives to help asthmatic children.

Reducing Older Adult Asthma Disparities (ROAAD), a pilot study utilizing 80 percent of the funding, will test a home-based intervention model aimed at improving the lives of asthmatic adults by strengthening health care provider and insurer support. This model, which has already been proven as an effective intervention for children, will aim to assess the feasibility of providing an adapted version of the evidence-based child intervention for older adults. The study, which will enroll 80-150 adults, primarily Black or Hispanic ethnicities older than 65 years of age, includes a home-visiting community health worker, visiting nurse, pharmacist, and primary care team.

The Promoting Policies for Asthma in Local Communities (PALC) project will utilize 20 percent of the funds to better protect Black and Hispanic children with asthma in high-risk communities by improving public housing and school environments. PALC will build off of the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund and pre-existing key partnerships DPH supports with the state’s highest-need communities.

Prior to this ISA, six of these highest-need communities in Boston, Framingham, Worcester, Holyoke, Lynn and New Bedford had identified home visiting, school strategies and high risk care management as their key initiatives in improving the lives of asthmatic children. The funding provided will enable DPH to promote smoke-free and integrated pest management policies in multi-unit dwellings and promote school-based wellness policies focused on improving school indoor air quality and asthma management in these six communities. PALC will help support the shared interest of DPH and the Department of Housing and Community Development to address environmental factors that make asthma worse in public housing.

According to the ISA, in 2012 an estimated 21.1 million adults in the United States had asthma, with 17 percent aged 65 and older. Older adults in Massachusetts have the highest mortality rate and the second highest hospitalization rate for asthma in the state. In 2012, more than 213,700 children in Massachusetts had a diagnosis of asthma.

More information and resources can be found here.  

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