Kinsey: Sickle cell funding is secured, patients will continue to get treatment

PHILADELPHIA, July 19 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., said he is pleased with the funding appropriated to the cause of sickle cell disease on the 2017-18 state spending plan.

“I’m glad the legislature kept sickle cell patients as a priority on this year’s spending plan and appropriated the necessary money to support individuals and families whose lives have been touched by the disease. Now we can continue research activities that can lead to improved treatment and, one day, a cure,” Kinsey said.

Sickle cell funding for fiscal year 2017-18 reaches $1.26 million, the same amount appropriated for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The funds will be administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“I’ve been a strong advocate for sickle cell funding because this is a disease with a high prevalence among African-Americans and people who live in households with low family incomes. For this populations, attaining and maintaining high-quality health insurance is even more difficult,” Kinsey said. “We held events, rallies and meetings and the efforts have come to fruition.”

Sickle cell anemia is a serious blood disorder that causes acute pain, severe anemia, infections and vascular blockages that can lead to widespread organ damage and death. It is a genetic disease, affecting 2 million Americans, most often African-Americans and Hispanics. Until the past few decades, most people with sickle cell disease did not live beyond young adulthood, but advances in treatment have improved and lengthened the lives of patients who have access to good medical care.

“Children born with sickle cell are at a particularly high risk for complications, including stroke. Early detection and appropriate intervention is the key to treating the disease. That’s why funding is so important. Money is crucial to achieve those objectives,” Kinsey said.

Kinsey said the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter, was a key partner during the process. Stanley Simpkins, executive director of the organization, said he applauds the legislative efforts to support sickle cell patients across the state.

“The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter, is very excited with the news. This funding will allow organizations like us to continue serving the sickle cell community and providing screening follow-ups, transportation, counseling, career assistance, advocacy, outreach and education services, and support groups to meet the needs of these individuals. We really appreciate Rep. Kinsey’s efforts and we look forward to working together for the health and wellbeing of sickle cell patients,” Simpkins said.

Kinsey concluded, “I thank my fellow House members for recognizing that it’s our responsibility to provide the best health care available to patients when they need it and have it delivered in a way that provides the best outcomes."