Cord Blood Banking Act

The major player in the collection and storage of stem cells culled from umbilical cord blood, Cord Blood Registry (CBR), has given its wholehearted support for legislation introduced by Ron Kind (D-WI), Wally Herger (R-CA), Artur Davis (D-AL), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) called, “Family Cord Blood Banking Act.”

The bill would change the IRS code so that individuals or couples could use tax advantaged dollars to fund cord blood banking services. The payments could be made through flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) or by using the medical expenses tax deduction.

Life-Saving Investment

The main sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Ron Kind, who is a Member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, commented, “This legislation supports families that choose this potentially life-saving investment by providing tax incentives for these medical expenses.”

Over the course of the last two decades, there have been more than 14,000 cord blood stem cell transplants throughout the world for the purpose of treating more than 70 diseases affecting children and adults alike. Stem cells have begun to lend hope for restoring health to sufferers of such varied conditions as type 1 diabetes, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and brain injury. While cord blood banking is in many cases the best way to treat and cure disease, the cost of cord blood banking is prohibitive for many families. The first year of cord blood banking costs around $2,000, and every year thereafter costs around $125.

Meantime, today’s tax laws place restrictions on the ways families can used these tax advantaged dollars. CBR’s senior vice president of public affairs and communications David Zitlow says, “These limitations are unfair and even unwise—families who opt to deposit into tax advantaged health accounts should have the discretion to spend those dollars as they see fit on qualified medical expenses.”

Affordable Banking

The legislation would make cord blood banking affordable for more families, but the main reason for the legislation is that making this service available to many is liable to speed up current research on cord blood stem cells. Dr. David Harris, Scientific Director for Cord Blood Registry and a stem cell researcher at the University of Arizona echoes these sentiments, “Research and clinical trials involving cord blood will require more children to have a source of their own cord blood stem cells available for transplant. Consequently, legislation that makes it easier for families to bank cord blood will definitely speed up the time table for life-saving research and will allow scientists to unlock the vast potential of these amazing cells on a much quicker basis.”

The Coalition for Regenerative Stem Cell Medicine is among those supporting the “Family Cord Blood Banking Act.” This coalition includes groups such as Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, The Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, and the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA).

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