HHS Office of Minority Health Awards $1.25 Million to Improve Treatment for Children with Sickle Cell Disease

October 1, 2020
Contact: Tony Welch

HHS Office of Minority Health Awards $1.25 Million to
Improve Treatment for Children with Sickle Cell Disease

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a $1.25 million grant to help improve treatment for children with sickle cell disease (SCD). The demonstration grant will determine the feasibility and effectiveness of providing financial incentives to providers to improve the quality of life for children with SCD through increased prescription rates of hydroxyurea. The grant was awarded to New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens in Jamaica, New York.

This Demonstration to Increase Hydroxyurea Prescribing for Children with Sickle Cell Disease Through Provider Incentives initiative will build the capacity of State Medicaid Offices and other partners to achieve the following three goals:

  1. Develop performance measures for hydroxyurea prescribing for the three main provider types (hematologists, primary care providers, and emergency clinicians) that care for children with SCD,
  2. Develop and implement an incentive payment system for each provider type, and
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of financial incentives for providers to increase hydroxyurea prescribing and decrease emergency department visits for children with SCD.

'HHS is committed to improving the lives of individuals living with SCD. We believe that increasing hydroxyurea use is important for reducing emergency visits, hospitalizations, and life threatening complications in children living with SCD,' said ADM Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health. The awardee, New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens, will partner with the New York State Department of Health to test the hypothesis that physician incentives can drive the needed system change to increase hydroxyurea use in their patient population.

'Sickle cell disease disproportionately affects African Americans, and although hydroxyurea is effective in reducing pain encounters and hospitalizations, too few children are receiving this treatment,' said RADM Felicia Collins, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health. 'This new OMH demonstration grant will allow us to determine whether we can develop a model that helps more children receive this important treatment, with subsequent decreased emergency room visits and reduced health care costs.'

For additional information on SCD, visit: minorityhealth.hhs.gov/sicklecell/. For more information on this grant, visit: minorityhealth.hhs.gov.