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Policies Play Critical Role in Reducing Asthma’s Burden on Low-Income, Communities of Color in California

Highlights

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PHI’s Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP) program helped to advance two new policies which play a critical role in sustaining the work of asthma home visiting programs and community health workers, and improving outcomes for patients with chronic asthma.

$15M investment from the state for the Asthma Mitigation Project

28 asthma home visiting programs make up the Asthma Mitigation Project

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 (RAMP) program remains committed to addressing health inequities and bridging the health gaps that exist in asthma care, management and outcomes and does this by advocating for much-need policies and programs.

The Impact of Asthma Policies on Programs and Communities

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 services. Through the California Department of Health Care Services “California Advancing and Implementing Medi-Cal (CalAIM)” program, Medi-Cal managed care plans can offer beneficiaries with poorly controlled asthma, environmental trigger remediation as part of the Asthma Remediation option under the Community Supports Program, a new policy and program that RAMP and its partners advocated for.

Additionally, through the Department’s new Asthma Preventive Services benefit, Medi-Cal now covers asthma education and home environmental asthma trigger assessments conducted by community health workers, Promotoras and other non-licensed professionals. RAMP and its partners advocated for this new policy.

Asthma home visiting programs, many of which are part of the Asthma Mitigation Project, provided their expertise, experiences and critical feedback which shaped the development of the two Medi-Cal policies on Asthma Remediation and Asthma Preventive Services. The Asthma Mitigation Project is a statewide grant program made up of 28 asthma home visiting programs and over 100 community health workers who are serving low-income neighborhoods throughout the state, focusing on asthma management and environmental trigger remediation, and decreasing the health impacts of asthma on adults and children.

The 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. It’s administered by the Center at Sierra Health Foundation. RAMP serves as a technical assistance provider, supporting and building the capacity of the 28 asthma home visiting programs.

Many asthma home visiting programs rely on community health workers to provide home visiting services and offer critical tools to help adults and children control their asthma and be healthy and active. The new policies have positive implications for communities most affected by asthma. Community health workers or Promotoras are a central part of the success of 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.

Anne Kelsey Lamb
Longer-term, these new services will also help build the power and resiliency of asthma home visiting programs. Anne Kelsey Lamb

Director of the Regional Asthma Management & Prevention program

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, Promotora, or other type) and 96% felt that their home visitor respected their families’ cultural, racial, or ethnic beliefs and values.

For years, asthma home visiting programs have had to be dependent on grants to help sustain themselves. The two new Medi-Cal policies will not only increase patients’ access to important asthma home visiting services but also serve as a key component to sustaining asthma home visiting programs across the state.

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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