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State Rep. James Buskey received the Distinguished Service Award on April 14 at the 16th annual Sickle Cell Regional Conference. Representing Alabama’s 99th District in the House of Representatives, he has been a fervent supporter of the sickle cell community throughout his 42 years in the Alabama Legislature.
One of the longest-serving legislators in Alabama history, Rep. Buskey recently announced his retirement from politics. Dr. Johnson Haynes, professor of medicine and director of the University of South Alabama Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, said Rep. Buskey leaves his mark of excellence and integrity at the local, state and national level as a teacher, administrator, legislator and civic leader.
“Throughout the state of Alabama, the sickle cell community often refers to him as ‘Mr. Sickle Cell,’” Dr. Haynes said. “This is a title that’s well deserved for his untiring work related to improving the state of knowledge and healthcare delivery throughout Alabama.”
“Sickle cell affects a lot of people that I represent in the black community,” Rep. Buskey said. “So, whenever there was an opportunity to impact the budget for sickle cell, I did everything I could.”
Of major significance is House Bill 528, which was passed in 1982 and prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage based on the diagnosis of sickle cell anemia; House Bill 250, which led to the establishment of the Sickle Cell Oversight and Regulatory Commission (SCORC) in 1996; and SJR 144, which supported the Sickle Cell Pilot Program in the Mobile County Public School System in 2009.
Alabama is one of a few states that support the sickle cell education agenda, Dr. Haynes said. State funding, generated from the Educational Trust Fund (ETF), currently provides $1,328,728 in funding to six community-based organizations and three sickle cell centers.
“Over the years funding cuts have been common, and many agencies have been excluded from the ETF,” Dr. Haynes said. “Rep. Buskey has either sponsored or co-sponsored legislation regarding appropriations to the Sickle Cell Education Program that has led to its sustainability.”
Rep. Buskey is a founding member of Franklin Primary Health Center in Mobile, and served on the board of directors and advisory board of Franklin for 40 years. In addition, he is founder and former board member of Commonwealth National Bank.
A career educator, Rep. Buskey worked in the public school system for 33 years as a teacher, assistant principal and administrator. He received a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from Alabama State University, Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Specialist in Education degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
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