House adopts Hanna resolution highlighting Bronchial Thermoplasty Awareness Day in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, May 8 – House lawmakers today unanimously adopted a resolution (H.R. 275) sponsored by Democratic Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, to bring attention to a medical procedure needed for many Pennsylvanians struggling with persistent, severe asthma and to urge all Pennsylvania insurance companies to fully cover this life altering procedure.


The resolution designates May 8, 2017, as “Bronchial Thermoplasty Awareness Day” in Pennsylvania.


Hanna said asthma is a chronic disorder of the airways that is complex and characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, airflow obstruction, bronchial hyper-responsiveness and an underlying inflammation. Approximately 24 million Americans suffer from asthma and nearly 3,400 people die every year. Bronchial Thermoplasty is delivered by the Alair System, the first therapeutic device approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 for adult patients with severe asthma that is not well-controlled with medication. Bronchial Thermoplasty targets airway smooth muscles by delivering a controlled specific amount of thermal energy to the airway wall through a dedicated catheter.


“Nearly 79 percent of patients who were treated with Bronchial Thermoplasty reported a significant improvement in their asthma-related quality of life,” Hanna said. “Those treated experienced a 32 percent decrease in severe asthma attacks, an 84 percent reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits and 66 percent fewer days lost from work, school and daily activities.”


Scientific literature shows evidence that Bronchial Thermoplasty is an established procedure that provides improved health outcomes while reducing costs over time, both goals of U.S. healthcare reform. Hanna noted that this outpatient procedure becomes cost effective because once it is performed in three sessions the treatment is complete and does not need to be repeated, helping to offset any costs that can accrue annually.


“A total of 18 insurance providers throughout the country deem this procedure ‘medically necessary’ including Independence Blue Cross in Pennsylvania,” Hanna said. “Today I called on all Pennsylvania-licensed insurance companies to cover the procedure of Bronchial Thermoplasty in the way the Independence family of companies did. I have a constituent that is suffering because her insurance provider will not cover this procedure. Bronchial Thermoplasty is an innovative procedure and essential for many Pennsylvanians to continue living a quality life.”


Hanna said there are 15 Bronchial Thermoplasty clinics in Pennsylvania with BT-certified pulmonologists who undergo a rigorous training and qualification process. 


“That’s a good thing,” Hanna said. “Because five of the top 50 most challenging places to live with asthma are located right here in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Scranton and Harrisburg.”