Last week was a capital week on Capitol Hill. Advocates joined again with Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) for another Policy Training Meeting, culminating in a stellar Hill Day advocating before Congressional staffers.
On April 30 and May 1, over 20 advocates convened to learn the latest on important diabetes issues and how to effectively bring our own stories to bear when lobbying lawmakers. We learned a lot about the issues we were there to talk about, and a lot about how to talk about them.
What Did We Talk About?
What did we talk about? Affordable access to insulin, of course. It’s the hot diabetes issue right now, and we wanted to make sure that our House Representatives and Senators didn’t forget that people with diabetes need relief from the high cost of insulin now.
We also talked about H.R. 1840 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1840/text?) and S. 814 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/814/text?), the Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act of 2019. This one was introduced late in the 115th Congress, and it just didn’t have time to get through before the election. Now it’s back for the 116th Congress.
H.R. 1840 and S. 814 aim to remove some of the barriers in place that are keeping Medicare recipients from learning how to better manage their diabetes today, next year, and for years after that. There’s a lot to like in this bill, and I encourage you to use the links above to find out if your Representative and your Senators have cosigned on this important legislation. If they haven’t cosigned yet, use this link (https://diabetespac.org/act-now/federal/ask-your-representative-to-support-diabetes-self-management-training-legislation/) to go to the DPAC website and ask them to put their support behind these bills today.
Your Voice Matters
Now, let me take a moment and talk to you about how important your voice is when it comes to affordable access to insulin, and a better path toward self-management training for seniors in America. Hint: it’s super-important.
Maybe you’ve seen the tweets and Facebook posts from advocates who were in Washington last week, and thought, “I dunno, all that advocating stuff might be over my head”. But it’s not!
There are over 40 people who have taken part in DPAC Policy Training Meetings and Hill Days in the past seven months, and most of us weren’t too sure we could handle it either. But we received great training from Christel Marchand Aprigliano, CEO of Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition; Leyla Mansour-Cole, Policy Director of DPAC; and DPAC’s Vice President of the Board, Stewart Perry. We also received valuable lessons from Diabetes Educator and Pharmacist extraordinaire Jasmine Gonzalvo, and from Logan Hoover, Senior Legislative Assistant to Representative Tom Reed, Chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus.
They were able to give us the knowledge that we needed to be able to speak effectively, and the confidence to share the passion we all have for improving the lives of people living with diabetes wherever they live in the USA.
In short, you can do this, and I hope that when the next DPAC Policy Training Meeting is announced, you sign up to be a DPAC Champion too. We need your voice. Your voice is worthy.
Do it for yourself. Do it for a family member. Do it because you pay taxes and they work for you. Do it for all of the people who can’t go to Washington but will benefit from your advocacy and passion. When you do, you will leave with a wealth of knowledge and a renewed sense that being a DPAC Champion makes a crucial difference for everyone affected by diabetes.
Stephen Shaul has been living with Type 1 diabetes since 1991. He writes a popular blog called "Happy Medium," is the founder of the Diabetes Athletes medal program, was a facilitator for The Diabetes UnConference, has spoken at FDA, and has been a longtime advocate for the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. He's currently serving as a member of the State of Maryland’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness, where he is the co-chair of the Diabetes committee. In addition, he's part of the 2018 Reader Panel at Diabetes Forecast magazine. He lives in Baltimore with his awesome wife, Maureen.
In summary, Stephen rocks.