In an effort to help people with asthma, conditions get more access to treatment, Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Chula Vista) visited the Imperial Valley to announce the introduction of the Asthma Care and Prevention in Rural Communities Act.
The Asthma Care and Prevention in Rural Communities Act of 2019 creates a grant program to fund mobile asthma clinics and telemedicine in counties with childhood asthma rates of 12% or above.
“Many believe that the problem of asthma only happens in the cities, but the reality is, especially in rural areas like Imperial Valley have a high incident of asthma,” Vargas said in a press conference held at Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo in El Centro.
Vargas said that children should not be missing school for being in the emergency room so that is why he and Representatives Eliot Engel (NY-16), and T.J. Cox (CA-21) introduced this bill that wants to bring more access to telemedicine and mobile clinics so children can be in school and reduce their travel to the emergency room.
This bill also mandates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to perform a study on the burden of rural asthma and report proposed solutions back to Congress.
“It is important that lawmakers understand that asthma is not only an inter-city issue but it also affects rural communities, there are millions of children with uncontrolled asthma in the United States and we need to ensure our children remain healthy,” Vargas said.
Vargas said they are asking for $5 million in funding for the first year and if the program works they will ask for more money. Imperial County will qualify for this funds since it has a high asthma rate.
According to the Data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, asthma-related hospitalizations for children 0-17 years in Imperial County was almost two times higher than the rest of the state: 17.8 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents as compared to the state level of 10.9 hospitalizations per 10,000 residents.
This trend continued for Imperial County when they examined the state average for asthma-related emergency department visits for children in Imperial County: 149.6 visits per 10,000 residents in Imperial County as compared to 80.7 visits per 10,000 residents across the rest of the state.