Asthma is the single most common chronic condition among children in the United States. Approximately 7 million children under age 18 in the United States have asthma, with poor and minority children suffering a greater burden of the disease.

Not only is pediatric asthma widespread, the economic burden is substantial. Researchers estimate that asthma costs the U.S. healthcare system $56 billion annually in both direct healthcare expenditures and indirect costs from lost productivity. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15, and is associated with increased emergency department visits. Pediatric asthma is also one of the leading causes of school absenteeism, accounting for 13.8 million lost school days and 14.2 millions days of missed work by caretakers.

In order to address the serious and pervasive problem of pediatric asthma in the United States, the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition was established in 2012 to improve policymaking around childhood asthma. 

Building a Childhood Asthma Coalition

In order to address the serious and pervasive problem of childhood asthma in the United States, the Merck Childhood Asthma Network (MCAN) partnered with the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington University (GWU) and First Focus to establish a new national multi-sector collation to raise awareness and advance public policies to improve the health of children who suffer from asthma. In 2015, new funding was obtained through the Kresge Foundation to continue the work of the Coalition.

Coalition membership is diverse, consisting of individuals and organizations who are leading advocates and experts in childhood asthma, public health, environmental health, poverty, housing, health care, and health care economics. Coalition members come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including clinical researchers, medical doctors, service providers, and policy analysts.

Coalition Goals

Coalition members are working together toward the shared goal of improving the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of childhood asthma through federal policy change and targeted state efforts. Relying on a strong foundation of evidence-based policy analysis to inform its work, the Coalition’s leading policy goals include:

  • Ensuring the availability of stable and continuous health insurance for children with asthma;
  • Developing high-quality clinical care, case management, and asthma education for all children;
  • Reducing asthma triggers in homes and communities;
  • Creating a nation-wide strategic plan for asthma research to develop new and effective treatments; and
  • Identifying new opportunities to improve asthma care that arise from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Coalition will achieve these goals by examining the issues surrounding childhood asthma, identifying best practices, raising awareness through public education, and issuing policy recommendations. We will build on existing stakeholder efforts to raise the visibility of this critical children’s health issue.

Download the Childhood Asthma Leadership Coalition one pager.