WASHINGTON – Today, United States Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) signed a letter addressed to Calder Lynch, Acting Director of the Center for Medicaid & Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Services, in which she addressed the disturbing care disparities for those suffering from Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), which is most commonly found among individuals of color. The letter was also signed by Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
As reported in the Hartford Courant, a 2013 study found cystic fibrosis, which affects one third the number of people in the United States as does SCD, receives between seven and 11 times more funding per patient. Cystic fibrosis occurs more regularly in Caucasian Americans.
“For those suffering with Sickle Cell Disease, getting access to care can be the difference between life and death,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “While federal law requires access to cutting-edge medical treatments designed to alleviate SCD, there is no such similar requirement for Medicaid or other in-state plans to cover those remedies. Consequently, those living with this life-threatening condition – many of whom are people of color - find themselves forced to choose between necessary treatment and paying rent or putting food on the table. I have spent my first year in office fighting against disparities in health care, and for more funding to fight against horrific chronic conditions. I urge Acting Director Jackson to take action to help SCD sufferers and thank my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus for joining me in this important endeavor.”
A genetic blood disorder, SCD reduces the average lifespan by almost 30 years. People of color have a far higher likelihood of inheriting this disease. According to the latest data, there are 100,000 Americans suffering with SCD, including 2,000 Connecticut residents.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year. Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.