This past week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending “The State of Diabetes” - a meeting for congressional members on Capitol Hill. While it does sound like “The State of the Union” address, I was not appointed the “designated survivor” (lucky for you). Rather, this meeting of the minds allowed the most prominent members in the diabetes community to come together and brief congress people on where our country is in diabetes research, expenses, and overall life with the disease. This meeting was monumental because many different organizations came together. The main panel had Tracey Brown (CEO of the American Diabetes Association), Dr. Gary Puckrein (CEO and President of the National Minority Quality Forum) and Christel Marchand Aprigliano (CEO of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition). These speakers spoke on the economic burden of diabetes, the economic impact of diabetes on Medicare. They also discussed the challenges with access, quality, and safety for patients with diabetes. Additionally, leaders from JDRF, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE), the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council (NDVLC), the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), and CDN’s very own CEO and Founder also spoke, answering questions specifically tailored to their expertise.
The main goal of the meeting was to present evidence on where the diabetes field is, and where it should be headed. The 115th United States Congress supported the House Diabetes Caucus, whose mission is to educate Members of Congress about diabetes and support legislative activities to improve diabetes research, education, and treatment. They made significant progress, mainly addressing a bipartisan inquiry about rising insulin prices, a report that proposed legislative changes. Now, in the 116th Congress, their three main focuses are to 1) Reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), 2) Address Rising Insulin Prices, and 3) Improve Access to Diabetes Technologies. Currently, the SDP is set to expire in September of 2019. SDP is a source of funding, currently at $150 million per year, for scientists to research therapies, prevention measures, and treatments. However, without continual renewal, much of this process might slow. SDP has a strong return on investment, as increased prevention and treatment efforts mitigate cost of government-funded emergency care.
This experience was really eye-opening for me. It was a perfect example of CDN’s tagline, “On your own, but not alone”. It reminded me how many people spend their entire lives involved in research, advocacy, and access. While sometimes we can get bogged down in the day-to-day trials of having diabetes, this meeting on the state of diabetes reminded me that the future is pretty bright. Every person in the completely-filled room knew someone with diabetes or had diabetes themselves. Every person was actively looking to help make the world a better place for people with diabetes. I was reassured by the presence of so many people in the room that although there is a lot of work to do, we have a great group of people working on this problem. A lot can be done with all these minds together.
Editor's note: the State of Diabetes meeting was organized by Children with Diabetes (CWD), and was attended by The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council (NDVLC), the American Association of Diabetes Educators (ADA), and the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC).