This week — following through on a promise in his 2017 State of the State address — Governor Ducey signed legislation to save infants’ lives.
“When it comes to our children, we will always be tireless advocates,” the governor said in January. “We have the power to save these precious human lives. So let’s act with urgency.”
Senate Bill 1368, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, ensures that every baby born in Arizona will be automatically screened for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. SCID is a rare genetic disorder that can be treated — but early detection is vital, and that’s what this legislation accomplishes.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added SCID to the agency’s recommended uniform screening list in 2010. However, even though 90 percent of babies in the U.S. are screened for this genetic disorder, Arizona was one of three states that still did not do so.
This common-sense policy will save and improve the lives of people across Arizona, including the up to 100 newborn babies in the U.S. who are affected by SCID each year.
Our state is also home to Native American tribes who experience disproportionately high rates of SCID. For instance, the Navajo suffer from a rate that is about 20 times higher than the general population — and, while babies born on the Navajo reservation are tested, 60 percent of births are off reservation, meaning they currently are not being tested.
In addition to the obvious public health benefits, the legislation will save hardworking taxpayers millions of dollars in avoidable treatment costs, which are often billed to the state’s Medicaid program when SCID isn’t detected early enough.
“Arizona is taking the lead, and, with this common-sense practice, protecting families and newborn babies,” said Governor Ducey. “I’m proud of the passion and hard work that got it done.”