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Reducing Asthma’s Burden on Low-Income, Communities of Color in California

Highlights

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People of color and low-income individuals are exposed more frequently to unhealthy housing conditions and environmental pollution, which can trigger asthma. PHI’s Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP) program helps increase community members' access to home visiting services for Californians with poorly controlled asthma.

100+ community health workers build their capacity each year to improve asthma management skills and be able to offer critical tools that help adults and children control their asthma

92% of participants in the Asthma Mitigation Project felt comfortable with their home visitor (community health worker or Promotora)

96% of participants in the Asthma Mitigation Project felt that their home visitor (community health worker or Promotora) respected their families' cultural, racial, or ethnic beliefs and values

PASSED Medi-Cal coverage of asthma home visiting programs, thanks to PHI's RAMP and partners

Asthma disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. The Public Health Institute’s Regional Asthma Management & Prevention program (RAMP) is dedicated to reducing the burden of asthma on vulnerable communities and is doing this through efforts like the Asthma Mitigation Project, where more than 100 community health workers are serving low-income neighborhoods throughout the state and focusing on asthma management and decreasing the health impacts of asthma on adults and children. The community health workers provide home visiting services and offer critical tools to help adults and children control their asthma and be healthy and active.   

The Asthma Mitigation Project is a $15 million investment from the state and was brought about as a result of years of policy and advocacy efforts by RAMP and its partners. The project is administered by the Center at Sierra Health Foundation and funds 28 asthma home visiting programs across the state. RAMP serves as a technical assistance provider and the project is aligned with RAMP’s overall mission to address prevention and management of asthma by building capacity, creating linkages, and mobilizing networks to advocate for policy and systems changes that target the root causes of asthma and disparities. 

Community health workers or Promotoras are a central part of the success of RAMP’s work on the Asthma Management Project, and work closely with community members and partners to address disparities related to asthma and bridge the health gap. The community health workers serve as an extension of public health or healthcare and build their capacity to improve asthma management through RAMP workshops which offer training, tools and support and are held multiple times throughout the year. 

The Asthma Mitigation Project has helped to create jobs and opportunities for community health workers and Promotoras to continue to build their skills in asthma management and public health. The community health workers/Promotoras come from and live in low-income communities of color in which the project serves. They represent the diversity of these communities, speak the same languages and are trusted by community members who live there.

An evaluation of the project found that 92% of participants in the Asthma Mitigation Project felt comfortable with their home visitor (community health worker or Promotora) and 96% felt that their community health worker/Promotora respected their families’ cultural, racial, or ethnic beliefs and values.

Two new Medi-Cal policies will help sustain the important work of community health workers/Promotoras and others providing asthma home visiting services, as well as increase access to asthma home visiting. Through the California Department of Health Care Services “California Advancing and Implementing Medi-Cal (CalAIM)” program, people who have Medi-Cal and have poorly controlled asthma, can receive asthma remediation as part of their Community Supports Program, a program that RAMP advocated for.  

Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans can select Asthma Remediation services to improve the health of people with asthma by removing triggers from their home environment. Through the Department’s new Asthma Preventive Services benefit, Medi-Cal now covers asthma education and home environmental asthma trigger assessments by community health workers, Promotoras and other non-licensed professionals.

Learn more about asthma home visiting services: Explore RAMP’s asthma home visiting services directory, which provides basic information about asthma home visiting programs in California, including service areas, services provided, client eligibility and contact information.

City covered with smoke and smog

Fact Sheet & Resources for Asthma Programs: Choosing Safe, Effective & Affordable Air Cleaners

Climate change is increasing the occurrences and risks of wildfires for much of the western United States. Wildfire smoke can be especially harmful to people with asthma, but air cleaners can greatly improve indoor air quality—clearing out wildfire smoke particles and other asthma triggers in the home.

See tips for choosing a safe, effective and affordable air cleaner, released in partnership by PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention and PHI’s Dr. Gina Solomon. Designed for asthma programs to support their clients, the materials can also be used by schools, families and individuals with asthma seeking to purchase or access air cleaners for personal use. The fact sheet includes tips for selecting an air cleaner based on room size, cost considerations, CARB and other certifications to look for, noise level and more.

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