When I was in the VA State Senate I was contacted by my high school and college classmate, Florence Cooper Smith, and urged to sponsor legislation requiring the VA State Health Department to include insurance coverage for victims of sickle cell anemia disease who were state employees, and to require prenatal testing and counseling. Another classmate, Laverne Wingo Cooper, a pioneering technician at MCV, orchestrated her direct involvement with the sickle cell initiative.
President Nixon signed the National Sickle Cell Control Act in 1972. I was successful in having the legislature acknowledge the need to include coverage in the State Plan.
We pursued the furtherance of more commitment at MCV, and after I had been elected Lt. Governor, I was able to get a good friend and legal mentor, Roland D. Ealey, to pursue that cause in the state legislature, where he had been newly elected to the House of Delegates. He was able to further improve upon the study and treatment of this oft neglected inherent disease.
When I read stories like the one recently published in the New York Times, I’m saddened to see how far we still have to go.