SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTLA) – As California and the rest of the nation face a critical blood supply shortage, one state lawmaker has unveiled legislation that would offer a financial motivation for residents who give the vital and life-saving resource.
The measure was introduced Wednesday by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, a Democrat whose 52nd District includes Pomona and parts of the Inland Empire.
Under Assembly Assembly Bill 1709, Californians who donate blood or blood components at least four times in a single calendar year would receive a $500 tax credit, beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2023.
The bill would also encourage California’s Office of Emergency Services to partner with the private sector and offer other incentives to help relieve the crisis, according to a news release from Rodriguez’s office.
“It is alarming that California has reached crisis level in its blood supply, a position no one in an emergency should have to face,” Rodriguez said in the release. “The solution is simple; those who can donate blood, should. The impact of a blood donation right now is immense and Californians can do something positive for our health care workers and those who are sick or injured.”
Rodriguez’s measure comes a week after Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, announced the state’s “most severe blood shortage” in a decade and urged people to donate.
The situation is also dire nationwide, with the American Red Cross declaring a blood crisis earlier this month, the first-ever in the U.S. About 40% of the nation’s donated blood supply comes from the Red Cross, and as of late, the organization has struggled to meet the demand.
“At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met,” the Red Cross said two weeks ago.
As a result, some doctors have had “to make difficult decisions” about who gets — and who waits — for blood transfusions, according to the organization.
The shortage is the result of a combination of factors, such as the cancellation of blood drives, staffing limitations, and other challenges related to the pandemic.
In addition to the legislation, Rodriguez also joined a growing chorus of lawmakers — among them Sen. Alex Padilla — who have called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to eliminate its policy that bars gay and bisexual men from donating unless they are abstinent for three months.
He noted dozens of other organizations are seeking to end the restrictions as well, including the Red Cross.