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June 3, 2024

SIGNED! Legislation to Create a Sickle Cell Outreach Program Becomes Law

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed into law legislation that will provide outreach and support to Coloradans living with sickle cell disease.

Sponsored by Senators Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, and Representative Regina English, D-Colorado Springs and Assistant House Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, SB24-042 will create the Arie P. Taylor Sickle Cell Disease Outreach Program within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to provide support to individuals living with sickle cell disease. Outreach and support services will be administered by a nonprofit organization contracted through CDPHE.

“Sickle cell disease is a debilitating condition that takes a toll on an individual’s health and quality of life,” said Fields. “Worse, we see disproportionately high rates of sickle cell disease in Black communities. This important program will provide critical outreach to individuals living with sickle cell disease to help connect folks to supportive health care and community services, and will help address long-standing health inequities that remain far too prevalent in marginalized communities across our state.”

“Sickle cell disease can cause blockages in a person’s small blood vessels and be incredibly painful if left untreated,” said Rep. Regina English, D-Colorado Springs. “This law establishes the new, Arie P. Taylor Sickle Cell Disease Outreach Program, to provide critical outreach and support to Coloradans living with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease disproportionately impacts Black communities and this new outreach program will help bridge the gap between needed health care and access to care experienced by marginalized communities. I am proud to carry this legislation forward because it will improve health outcomes for so many in our state.”

“Arie P. Taylor was a trailblazer as Colorado's first female Black representative,” Buckner said. “Creating this program in her name honors her legacy and ensures communities she represented have the support they need to thrive – just as Ms. Taylor envisioned. I’m proud to see this bill get signed into law and I look forward to seeing how the Arie P. Taylor Sickle Cell Disease Outreach Program will support individuals and families and ultimately, change lives.”

“Long-standing inequities in our health care system have left many Black Coloradans without access to the care they need, let alone specialized care,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “This new law would establish the Arie P. Taylor Sickle Cell Disease Outreach Program to connect people living with sickle cell disease with resources and support. Sickle cell disease is genetic, and unfortunately, the rates have been much higher among Black communities. Named after Colorado’s first Black female legislator, the new program honors Ms. Taylor’s legacy by providing individualized support to our community and works to bridge the gap in health care access.”

Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells that carry oxygen to stick together after the oxygen is released, causing blockages in the small blood vessels, anemia, and severe pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sickle cell disease occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births and occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.

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