Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

AARC Advocates on Capitol Hill for Respiratory Patients Needing Special Asthma Services


By Cheryl West, MHA

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), a professional organization of respiratory care professionals, continues its commitment to the pulmonary community, especially those suffering from asthma, for greater recognition under federal health programs, in particular, Medicare.  

AARC holds a Washington, D.C. Hill Lobby Day every year and this year the focus for the Association was HR 2948, The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act. HR 2948 takes a major step in expanding current Medicare rules regarding where telehealth may be provided and by whom. The bill specifically recognizes that respiratory therapists should be considered providers of telehealth services. While the bill is a Medicare bill, as most know, what Medicare does (what it covers) leads the way for private health insurance policies and state Medicaid programs to follow suit. Asthma sufferers would surely benefit from the new innovations and efficiencies telehealth can bring to them. The Asthma and Allergy Network (ANN) is in full support of HR 2948 and has included it in the network’s own May Hill Advocacy Day.

In addition, AARC supports the following asthma legislation circulating on Capitol Hill. Both bills are supported by ANN:

S. 1065  – School Asthma Management Plan Act
This bill will help schools and families afford the new inhalers they need by providing over $100 million in funding to schools in low-income, high-incidence areas to purchase inhalers and holding chambers so that children with asthma will have access to the treatment they need. Schools would also be required to develop and implement asthma management plans. The bill provides additional funding for asthma research and improves collaboration among federal agencies for better asthma surveillance and data collection. 

S. 1972 – Airline Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act of 2015
This bipartisan bill would require airlines to 1) clarify that 1:1,000 epinephrine ampules included in emergency medical kits carried on aircraft are intended to be used for the treatment of anaphylaxis; and, 2) to carry not fewer than 2 packs of epinephrine auto-injectors (one for individuals weighing less than 66 pounds and one for use on individuals weighing more than 66 pounds) as an initial treatment for anaphylaxis. Air carriers are also required to provide crewmember training based on the advice of experts, to know how to recognize an acute allergic reaction, and how to administer the auto-injectable epinephrine.

Several respiratory patients have gone on these Hill visits with the respiratory care professionals to drive home the important message that these services would greatly benefit respiratory patients throughout the country.

Cheryl West is the AARC’s director of government affairs and is based in Irving, TX.

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