Ahead of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day on June 19, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Sickle Cell Care Expansion Act to improve access to medical treatment and quality of life for people suffering from Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

This bill, which complements legislation introduced earlier this year by Congressman Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), will enable the National Health Service Corps to provide scholarships and loan repayment assistance for those studying benign hematology – the specialty under which Sickle Cell Disease falls – making specializing in this field an easier financial decision and attracting more providers to the SCD workforce, which does not currently meet the needs of patients who are no longer receiving pediatric care. Additionally, this bill creates competitive grants to increase awareness about SCD and resources available to patients. The Senators’ legislation builds on the House version by providing more resources for hospitals to further fund support services for young adults transitioning from pediatric to adult care. 

SCDAA President and CEO Regina Hartfield commented on this legislation, noting that “A major barrier to receiving high-quality care for sickle cell warriors is the lack of access to medical professionals, such as hematologists, who are trained to treat sickle cell disease. Many of our warriors are routinely forced to choose between commuting for hours to see a specialist and receiving inadequate care. Nobody should need to travel out of state or great distances within the state during a crisis to be seen by a hematologist who understands their condition. The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America believes that the Sickle Cell Care Expansion Act will significantly increase the number of qualified physicians who specialize in sickle cell disease.”

Click here to read more about the Sickle Cell Expansion Act.