If you have any feeling whatsoever about the ongoing problem of the cost of Insulin, you must find a few hours to sit and watch Priced Out of a Life Saving Drug: the Human Impact of Rising Insulin Costs which was a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the Energy & Commerce Committee held on Tuesday, April 2nd.
It was riveting, engaging, informative, and I was left in tears, literally tears, at the brilliance and well-spoken representatives speaking on behalf of our diabetes community. I honestly do not have the names of all of them but the ones who spoke the most; Dr. Cefalu from the American Diabetes Association, Dr. Kowalski from the JDRF, Christel Marchano-Aprigliano from DPAC; and there were others, Doctors, Patients, and people who understand living with diabetes in a world of increasing costs of Insulin; were nothing short of a very loud unified voice of reason mixed with a huge dose of reality.
Virtually every member of Congress attending this meeting came with the statistics about their home area. They were ready to state the problems of what they were hearing ‘back home’ but as one watched the hearings continue something happened. Something rare and extremely wonderful happened. Very early on in the proceedings, The Committee was not so interested in stating what little they knew about diabetes in their own state anymore, they stopped; they listened. They had willingly become the students. And our diabetes teachers were nothing short of brilliant in their lesson plan, Because their teacher……..was life.
Because every one who was up there representing…..well……us, who have or have a loved one with diabetes, via statistics, facts, personal stories, and representing thousands of other voices, rang true in the ears of our congressional leaders…….there is a problem, a big problem. Hear us.
And I do believe Congress did.
Looking for transparency to understand where in the financing-chain is the mechanism to make sure that these ‘savings’ will get to the patient is just a step in the direction needed to be taken. It’s not a single entity’s fault nor is there a simple solution. Individual after individual pounded away as a boxer does with their opponent on the ropes, emphasizing that congress needs to be involved to change these parameters, that people are dying because they cannot afford insulin, or that they are dying while rationing insulin use. Our speakers came with facts, figures, studies, and real life stories of what we all know already.
Each and every testimony from the invited panel painted a vivid picture for our congressional leaders to understand. The Members of Congress were left with their mouths open, their minds open, and they, in turn, emphatically thanked each invited guest from our diabetes community. They were not there from just the JDRF or the ADA or the Patient Advocacy Coalition; as I have never heard them before–they were there on Capitol Hill for you, for me, for us.
Bravo all…..and thank you.
Next week, this same committee has summoned the 3 main insulin manufacturers and the 3 PBMs (Plans Benefit Mangers) making up 80% of the proceeds to come to Capitol Hill and explain their point of view.
April 2nd 2019 may very well be the date to remember when the problem of the cost of insulin made it to Capitol Hill and Congress listened, and Congress acted. Time will surely tell but holy wow, was I so proud of those who went up the Hill with one loud, unison voice of change. Bravo to all of you and humbly, we thank each of you.
Anxiously we will await next week’s hearings.
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