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Asthma Costs New York $1.3 Billion a Year, DiNapoli Says

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April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Asthma, the chronic lung disease, costs New York state more than $1.3 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

About 1.7 million New Yorkers have asthma, with the highest rates in the Bronx, one of New York City’s five boroughs, DiNapoli said in a report April 4. In the past five years, asthma-related Medicaid expenses have risen more than 26 percent. The asthma death rate for blacks and Hispanics outpaced the rate for whites between 2002 and 2011, he said.

“For the New Yorkers with this chronic disease, a flare-up can mean missing work or school and too many late-night emergency room visits,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The state needs to better understand asthma trends and better target publicly funded initiatives.”

There is no known cure for asthma. The disease is manageable, though it’s made worse by air pollution, according to the report. New York, the third-most-populous state, has taken steps to broaden Medicaid access to services and medications that can help contain the disease. The state is also seeking federal approval for a program that would allow Medicaid to cover at-home evaluations, DiNapoli said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Freeman Klopott in Albany at fklopott@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Mark Schoifet, Justin Blum

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