RHA Statement - House Health Care Bill Concerning.

Posted: 5/4/2017

Today's actions by the House of Representatives will, if enacted, have serious consequences for the 25 million people in the US living with lung disease.

Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, are chronic, often diagnosed in youth, and many affect economically vulnerable populations disproportionately. For those diagnosed with asthma, medication can lessen the severity of asthma episodes and reduce their frequency. Other lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), often require a lifetime regimen of medications.

These diseases are capable of being managed effectively, but treatment costs are already outside of the means of many people. Consumer protection changes in the proposed law for those with pre-existing conditions would likely further impact access to treatment for individuals with asthma, COPD, and other lung diseases.

The proposed health care bill is also dangerous because it threatens nationwide funding for disease prevention programs, such as tobacco cessation. Cutting these programs virtually assures yet another generation of smokers and all of the disease that results from tobacco use. The only way to reduce the number of people living with lung cancer, COPD and other diseases in the future is by supporting prevention and cessation programs today.

By way of illustration, Chicago used $11.5 million in prevention funding during the last decade to achieve a historic decrease in youth smoking. Economists have estimated this will yield savings of more than $300 million in future health care costs - a return on investment of more than 30:1 for the youth smoking rate decrease alone.

Additional information about projected cost impact for those with pre-existing conditions is available here. A map detailing where individuals with pre-existing conditions currently live is available at this link.