BLOOD BANKS: Required Tests Put Facilities in the Red
Fourteen of California's 18 major blood banks are experiencing "financial strain," the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. Officials at Sonoma County's Blood Bank of the Redwoods and others across the state are lobbying state and federal officials as well as hospitals and health insurers to help relieve the burden of expensive new testing requirements, which they claim have put the blood centers in the red. Since the discovery of HIV-tainted blood in the mid-1980s, the FDA has ordered blood banks to test donated blood for HIV, hepatitis and evidence of liver damage, among other diseases. In total, officials are now required to perform nine tests on donated blood, causing them to lose money on every pint sold to hospitals and other health care agencies. According to Cathy Bryan, director of the Blood Bank of the Redwoods and state spokesperson for the California Blood Centers committee on reimbursement, the federally required tests cost about $50, but the centers only receive $9 in reimbursement from insurers. In an effort to offset the costs, the Sonoma County Blood Bank and others have begun making products other than whole red blood cells and have been exporting excess blood to areas throughout the state and nation. The facility also has forged a "resource sharing" coalition with the Stanford Blood Center and the Sacramento Medical Foundation Blood Center to circulate supplies among hospitals contracting with the three centers. State legislators and blood bank officials have met in the past few months to discuss additional funding for blood testing (Rose, 3/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.