By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – As the U.S. faces a critical shortage of blood, one California lawmaker has introduced legislation that would offer tax credits to residents who donate blood four or more times in a calendar year.
Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, chair of the Assembly Committee on Emergency Management, introduced legislation last week that would provide a $500 net tax credit for individuals who donate blood four or more times per year.
The credit would apply to donations of blood or “human blood components,” according to the bill text.
The legislation was referred to the Committee on Revenue and Taxation and the Committee on Emergency Management Thursday, where it could be heard before the end of the month.
“It is alarming that California has reached crisis level in its blood supply, a position no one in an emergency should have to face,” Assemblyman Rodriguez said in a statement after the legislation was introduced. “I have introduced legislation to quickly provide needed relief to the supply. 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.”
In January, the American Red Cross announced it was facing its “worst blood shortage in more than a decade,” declaring its first-ever nationwide blood crisis. The organization, which provides about 40% of the nation’s blood supply, said that it had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types throughout January.
The severe shortage led California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly to call on residents across the state to donate blood in mid-January.
“While the need for blood is constant, California, along with the rest of the nation, is experiencing the most severe blood shortage in the last ten years,” Dr. Ghaly said in a statement in mid-January. “Fortunately, there is hope in ending this blood emergency with a simple act of kindness many of us can take as individuals – blood donation.”
The impact of the blood shortage was felt in several hospitals across the state throughout January. In one instance, the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, located in Los Angeles County, closed its trauma center to new patients for two hours after facing extreme blood shortages, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Since January, the Red Cross has seen thousands of donors come forward to donate, but “patient care remains at risk,” Cari Dighton, the regional communications director for the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region, told The Center Square.
“The threat of winter weather continues − as well as ongoing complications posed by the omicron variant – and could further complicate efforts to rebuild the blood supply,” Ms. Dighton said. “More donors are needed to make appointments now for the weeks ahead to help the nation’s blood supply stabilize. All types are needed, especially types O positive and O negative, as well as platelet donations.”
If Assemblyman Rodriguez’s bill is passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law would take effect starting Jan. 1, 2023.
In addition to offering tax incentives for blood donors, the bill would encourage the state’s Office of Emergency Services to form partnerships in the private sector to create additional incentives to alleviate the blood shortage.