RAMP engages in a wide range of policy efforts aimed at addressing the burden of asthma. These efforts range from sponsoring state legislation on pest infestations and mold in homes to participating in regional and state level regulatory campaigns to improve outdoor air quality.
Below is a sample of the policies that RAMP, in collaboration with key partners, including Community Action to Fight Asthma, is actively supporting. Check back again soon as this list is regularly updated. For more general policy approaches to reducing the burden of asthma, click here.
A rule issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has exciting implications for support for asthma management. Beginning January 1, 2014, Medicaid (either directly or through its managed care contractors) will be able to cover and pay for preventive services so long as the services have been initially recommended by a physician or other licensed practitioner. Until this rule goes into effect, current Medicaid regulations limit coverage of preventive services to those that are provided by a physician or other licensed practitioner. The rule may ultimately provide additional support for community-based asthma interventions carried out by asthma educators, healthy homes specialists, or other community health workers. State Medicaid programs have to adopt the rule before it goes into effect.
Outdoor Air Quality/Land Use
RAMP has supported various policies related to California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. RAMP has focused its attention on those climate change policies that have the most direct health “co-benefits” for those with asthma. For example, policies to reduce GHGs through reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have the added benefit of improving overall air quality. RAMP is paying specific attention to regional and state efforts to reduce GHGs and VMT through land use (see SB 375). For example, within the Bay Area, RAMP and other advocates pushed for the adoption of a Sustainable Communities Strategy that maximizes health and equity benefits. At the state level, RAMP and partners are working to ensure the full implementation of policies like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which will bring alternative fuels into the market place and help lower GHGs and pollution in the process. RAMP and partners are also working to ensure that funding from the state’s cap and trade program are invested in projects that have a particular benefit for communities facing the greatest risks and impacts from climate change.
RAMP is working with many partners to address the health problems and social inequities related to the state’s freight transportation system – the infrastructure of ships, ports, trains, rail yards, distribution centers trucks and other equipment that move goods in and across California. In addition to those goods, the freight system brings pollution and quality of life burdens to too many communities, especially low income communities and communities of color. In addition to advocating for the full implementation of the state’s diesel risk reduction regulations, RAMP and its allies are also working with the California Air Resources Board to develop and adopt transformational changes to the freight system.
- Promoting public health in regional land use decisions
RAMP, as part of the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative (DDDC), is working to adopt public health and environmental criteria into land use and transportation planning scenarios for the San Francisco Bay Area’s Sustainable Communities Strategy. Locally, DDDC has been actively engaged with the staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to promote health protective measures that highlight land use conflicts, affordable housing developments and freight transport issues within the Bay Area. RAMP and its partners are also working to shape the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s development of a goods movement plan that will shape freight in Alameda and the region for years to come. RAMP continues to advocate for smart growth and healthy development where economic, environmental and public health inequities exist.
- Promoting Healthy Housing
In partnership with members of the California Healthy Housing Coalition (CHHC), RAMP works to reduce exposure to asthma triggers associated with substandard housing conditions, such as pests, pesticides, and mold. This year RAMP is co-sponsoring two pieces of healthy housing legislation with CHHC partners:
- SB 328: guaranteeing tenants have the right to know about pesticides used in their home
Current law requires licensed pest control operators to provide advanced written notice to owners and tenants that includes health and safety information before a pesticide application. However, landlords who do not hire licensed pest management professionals and apply store-bought pesticides to address pest problems on their own are not required to provide tenants with notification about pesticide use. As a result, tenants are not always provided with the advanced information they would need to take precautions and avoid potential exposure to pesticides. SB 328, authored by Senator Hueso would ensure affected tenants receive the same notification before a pesticide application whether a pesticide is applied by a licensed professional or by an owner or property manager. Click here to show your support for this bill.
- SB 655, addressing the problem of mold in homes
While the science has become increasingly clear that the presence of dampness, visible mold, and mold odor in homes are associated with increased risk of respiratory illnesses such as asthma, mold is not explicitly included as an enforceable substandard housing condition in the state Health and Safety Code. As a result, some jurisdictions respond to mold complaints and some don’t. SB 655, authored by Senator Mitchell, would add mold as an enforceable, substandard housing condition to the Health and Safety Code and give a clear signal to local enforcement agencies that they can require owners to fix mold problems. Click here to show your support for this bill.
RAMP has been working with local partners through Alameda County Department of Public Health’s Place Matters Program and the Alameda County Healthy Homes Alliance to develop and promote proactive rental housing inspection policies. Because traditional, complaint-based code enforcement for substandard housing issues puts the burden on tenants to report problems, many problems go unreported due to lack of knowledge, fear of retaliation or rent increases, or language barriers. Proactive systems require routine inspections of rental properties, removing the burden from tenants and ensure all rental housing meets existing health and safety standards.