FRANKFORT – On Thursday, Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 276, joined Governor Andy Beshear at a ceremonial bill signing for a measure expanding the Medicaid program to individuals diagnosed with sickle cell disease.
SB 276, also known as Emily’s Law, will expand the Medicaid program to individuals diagnosed with sickle cell disease and require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to conduct an annual review of all medications, services, and forms of treatment for enrollees with the disease.
Sickle cell disease is a severe, life-shortening condition that causes an individual’s body to produce abnormally shaped red blood cells resembling a crescent or a sickle. These sickle-shaped blood cells do not last as long as normal round red blood cells, which leads to anemia. They can also become stuck in blood vessels and block blood flow, which can cause severe pain, organ damage, and infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that sickle cell affects more than 100,000 people in the United States, predominantly people of color and especially African Americans.
The intent of SB 276 is to ensure that we as a commonwealth take a more active role in improving care for those living with sickle cell disease, said Sen. Gerald Neal.
Improvement in sickle cell disease is a top health care initiative priority for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). It calls on state and federal lawmakers to improve data collection, quality care, and access to new treatments for sickle cell disease.
For several years, NBCSL has penned resolutions in support of research funding and educational resources to help find a cure for a disease that affects the African American community, as demonstrated with the passage of Terrance’s Law in Tennessee. Like Terrance’s Law, SB 276 is cited as Emily’s Law after Emily Bass, a former legislative page who lost her battle with the disease.
SB 276 has been signed into law by the Governor and will take effect in 90 days.