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American Lung Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Partner to Improve Asthma Care

September 11, 2012

New Program Seeks to Impact 30,000 Children Over Three Years

Richardson, TX — The American Lung Association in Dallas and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) have announced a joint initiative to improve pediatric asthma care to an estimated 30,000 children in Texas over the next three years. In conjunction with BCBSTX's Healthy Kids, Healthy Families (HKHF), a three-year initiative that pulls together local, state and national resources in an effort to make a significant impact on childhood health and wellness, BCBSTX will partner with the American Lung Association (ALA) for the "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project."

Throughout the three year partnership, the Texas ALA will provide monthly training and mentoring focused on improving asthma care to 15 clinics that serve high-risk populations. The program aims to directly impact children with asthma and their caregivers, community leaders and educators, resulting in improved long-term care outcomes.

According to survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9.7% of children in Texas suffer from asthma. Through HKHF, the "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project" will work to improve pediatric asthma care by implementing systems in partnering clinics that support and adhere to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) asthma guidelines with a shared goal to enhance asthma treatment guidelines for children. By using BCBSTX's proprietary claims information, the project will target areas with the highest frequency or rate of asthma-related claims and recruit clinics to participate in a year-long training program that focuses on improving guidelines-based asthma care at their clinic. This innovative process will better identify communities that would significantly benefit from these services, resulting in improved health outcomes for those patients who are affected by asthma.

"This joint initiative will help us to empower more medical providers, caregivers and those afflicted with asthma with the education and resources they need to enhance their knowledge of asthma signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment," said Plesetta Clayton, Vice President of Health Promotions, American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf region. "We are excited for the opportunity to expand this successful program to the state of Texas."

"According to the CDC, asthma is the leading chronic illness among children and the number one cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness," said Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. "At BCBSTX, we are dedicated to addressing this devastating disease and — considering that less than half of people with asthma reported being taught how to avoid triggers — we believe that education is the key to managing asthma."

Since 2006, the ALAUM has partnered with health providers at more than 60 clinics in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to develop the model for the new initiative. The "Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Project" is the ALAUM's first major collaborative initiative with the American Lung Associations in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The benefits to the participating clinics include improved care for patients with asthma; more effective, efficient systems; standardization of care meeting national guidelines; better documentation and coding to measure quality; and build capacity with Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) approach that can be applied to other clinical challenges.

Through the Enhancing Asthma Care Project in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, ALA will recruit five clinics per year for three years to form a cohort; the clinics in the cohort then meet bi-monthly over the course of the year, focusing each month on improving one element of guidelines-based asthma care at their clinic. Technical assistance, mentoring, and training are provided by ALA. By the end of the one-year partnership, all levels of clinic staff, from front office staff to clinic directors and all stages of clinic care have been addressed. This results in a sustainable change in the primary care system which produces measurable improvements in health outcomes for asthma patients.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative reflects HCSC's commitment to make a meaningful difference across all of the areas we serve. Since the initiative’s inception, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico) has granted more than $6 million to more than 90 community partners across the four states it serves. Additional "Healthy Kids, Healthy Families" pillar partners include:

  • The OrganWise Guys — a nutrition and physical activity program that encourages children to take charge of their health by making the connection between healthy food choices and their organs. In 2011, HCSC funded 49 schools helping to improve nutrition education for approximately 24,500 children.
  • KaBOOM! — a partnership that encourages youth to incorporate exercise into their daily lives with healthy play. Since 2009, we've worked with KaBOOM! to build 18 playgrounds and plan to build another 11 playgrounds in 2012.
  • The Care Van Program — in an effort to provide preventive care to uninsured and medically underserved children and adults, each of HCSC’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans operates a mobile immunization outreach program. In 2011, HCSC served 111,520 people with 145,243 immunizations and 43,366 other health services, which may include blood pressure screenings, body fat analysis, HIV testing, health education and dental services.
  • Loveisrespect.org — as part of HCSC's commitment to safe environments for children and families in the communities it serves, our partnership with Loveisrespect.org aims to better equip our communities to respond to the growing epidemic of teen dating violence through tailored, on-the-ground outreach and awareness programs. Loveisrespect.org is a collaboration between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline.

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The American Lung Association is Fighting for Air through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit the American Lung Association website .

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas — the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas &mdsah; is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4.8 million members in all 254 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country's largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Healthy Kids, Healthy Families
Healthy Kids, Healthy Families is a three-year initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of at least one million children through community investments by Health Care Service Corporation and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The initiative will invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in areas of nutrition education, physical activity, disease prevention and management, and supporting safe environments.