Virginia Lawmakers Propose Budget Amendment To Increase Funding for Sickle Cell Treatment Services
Virginia Sen. Edd Houck (D) and other state senators plan to introduce a budget amendment that would direct more state money to programs on sickle cell anemia, which disproportionately affects blacks, the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star reports (Davis, Fredericksburg Freelance-Star, 1/30). Since 1994, Virginia has allocated about $250,000 annually for pediatric sickle cell centers, funding nurse and social worker salaries at hospitals across the state. Hospitals cover the bulk of the programs' costs, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The budget amendment proposal would increase sickle cell program funding to $732,900 annually and include support services for youths aging out of pediatric programs (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/30). The proposal includes an additional $532,900 in funding to hire seven new workers in the health department to provide such services as patient tracking, family support, training for community providers and help for patients transitioning to the adult health care system, Houck said. In 1994, Virginia sickle cell treatment centers served 412 patients, compared with 1,181 in 2005. According to the Virginia Department of Health, the amount of funding "is no longer sufficient to provide the services that are recommended as standard of care for this population" (Fredericksburg Freelance-Star, 1/30). "Many years ago, we did get the sickle cell testing for infants. Those who are identified were taken care of in pediatrics programs. Now, when you get to the end of the pediatrics program, there is no special care for them," Janice Davies, secretary of the Fredericksburg Area Sickle Cell Association, said (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.