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MI expands sickle cell disease coverage to adults

National Human Genome Research Institute
Diseased red blood cells sometimes take on a sickle, or crescent shape, preventing them from freely traveling through the body.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is expanding coverage to adults living with sickle cell disease. 

About 400 of the 2,800 adults with sickle cell disease in Michigan are not covered by Medicaid.

The 2022 state budget includes additional funding for those patients.

Terra Depew with the MDHHS Children’s Special Health Care Services program says it can be difficult for adults to find treatment.

“Patients can require a lot of time and intensive care coordination, and for some practices that are already carrying a full load, it isn’t realistic for them to take on additional sickle cell disease patients,” Depew said.

Depew adds many adults who can’t find a specialist go to a primary care provider for treatment.

“But many who don’t have primary care providers may end up in emergency rooms seeking treatment when they’re in a crisis mode,” she said. “Although they’re able to access treatment, we know that’s not the best way to care for a long term condition like sickle cell disease.”

Depew says the expansion will fund things like co-pays, deductibles and access to clinics.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition that hampers the flow of oxygen in red blood cells to the body.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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