ASTHMA: Bill for Education, Research Funding in Jeopardy
Legislation designed to create a statewide asthma education, prevention and research program has run into a financial roadblock in the Assembly, the Los Angeles Times reports. Funds for the $11 million bill were excluded from the state budget earlier this summer, and more recently the bill was recommended for rejection by the Department of Finance. According to state Sen. Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto), who proposed the legislation, "the prospects are grim. Once the budget is signed, it is always difficult to get approval for programs carrying additional major expenditures." The bill, supported by the American Lung Association, was a result of the state's 1998 asthma summit, aimed at drawing attention to the increasing number of asthma cases in California. Currently, 2.3 million of the nation's 17 million asthma suffers reside in California -- the highest incidence of any state -- but there is no "coordinated program to combat the disease." According to Dr. Richard Kreutzer, chief of environmental health investigations for the state Health Department, "the rise in asthma cases ... demonstrates the need for a statewide attack on the disease." Some physicians have criticized the state's inaction. Dr. Marielena Lara, a pediatrician and director of a joint UCLA/RAND program on Latino children with asthma, stated, "Unlike AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, the government has not stepped in with a comprehensive approach to the disease." The bill is currently stalled in the Assembly (Warren, 8/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.