LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 14, 2021) — Today, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) and Rep. Ronnie Peterson (D-Ypsilanti) announced new legislation to support Michigan residents living with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). The proposal would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to ensure the availability of accessible, quality health care for individuals with SCD who are enrolled in Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs).


SCD is a genetic red blood cell disorder that can cause serious infections, organ damage and debilitating pain. Symptoms of SCD vary from person to person and finding appropriate treatment can be a burden for those who suffer from the illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 100,000 Americans are living with this condition. SCD primarily affects Black Americans, occurring in about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births.


“Living with sickle cell disease is no walk in the park, and those suffering from it deserve access to world-class treatment to help manage painful symptoms,” Sen. Ananich said. “By connecting patients with SCD to specialists and customized care, we hope we can provide folks some real relief. No matter your political stripe, we should all be able to agree on a plan to improve Michigan’s care and outreach for SCD patients.”


Under the legislation, MDHHS would be required to coordinate with Comprehensive Health Care Program MCOs to implement an SCD quality strategy for affected children and adults.


A quality strategy includes, but is not limited to:


  • Measurable goals to improve the identification of members with SCD within 90 days of health plan enrollment;
  • Adequate provider network capacity to ensure timely access to SCD specialty service providers (for example, hematologists);
  • Care coordination strategies and supports to help members with SCD access SCD specialists and other SCD-related care supports;
  • Delivery of an MDHHS-approved training curriculum to educate primary care providers on SCD, including information on emergency warning signs and complications, evidence-based practices and treatment guidelines, and when to make referrals to specialty SCD treatment providers.


“Too often, medical issues that primarily affect the Black community are not given the appropriate attention they’re due,” Rep. Peterson said.  “We must go the extra mile to make sure patients are heard, medical providers are informed, and specialists are available to these patients. This legislation gets us several steps closer to a better, more equitable health care system for Michigan residents with sickle cell disease.”


Senate Bill 641 will be introduced and assigned a committee tomorrow, Sept. 15. The House bill will be introduced soon.