Reps Want More Diabetes Funding
Reps. Tom Reed and Diana DeGette are pushing for $50 million more per year to help fund diabetes research and secure treatments for more of the millions of Americans suffering with the common affliction.
Both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Diabetes Caucus, Reed and DeGette, D-Colo., both have personal experience with the disease in their families. Reed’s son, now 18, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 4.
An understanding of what diabetes can put a family through made Reed want to spearhead prioritization of research that will hopefully lead to cures and further prevention of diabetes.
He said $200 million per year for the Special Diabetes Program will equal a deserved investment in the millions of Americans’ lives touched by diabetes. He said increased funding would go toward “cutting-edge, innovative techniques” for treatment.
“We are seeking to extend that Special Diabetes Program for five more years,” Reed said.
The Corning Republican said the current funding is $150 million per year. In a conference call with regional media, he expressed the need to cut down on drug prices and noted that insulin is a sticking point for many debates on drug prices.
“We are changing the market,” said Reed, who highlighted his belief that the Diabetes Caucus has held the three major manufacturers of insulin accountable for enforcing caps on prices of the substance.
Urging for the increase in funding, DeGette and Reed penned a letter to House leadership. The letter, dated May 9, explained to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., how diabetes is the most costly disease in the country, with more than 30 million Americans documented to have it.
The current authorization of the Special Diabetes Program expires in September. Increased funding, Reed said, would also go toward more dollars spent to assist the native American population suffering from type 2 diabetes.
A total of 378 members of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats, signed onto the letter Reed co-authored. He emphasized the importance of healthy citizens not only for their personal well-beings but also for the future productivity of the nation.
“The total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2017 was $327 billion, with $237 billion for direct medical costs and another $90 billion due to reduced productivity,” the letter read. “Medical expenditures for individuals diagnosed with diabetes are roughly 2.3 times higher than expenditures for those without the disease.”
Reed urged anyone who is experiencing difficulty paying for insulin and other health care costs to call his offices. His staff can be reached at his 2 E. Second St. Jamestown location at 708-6369.
In other news, the conference call regarding the subject matter of diabetes funding was cut short Tuesday after what reports said was an improperly-pulled fire alarm at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Reed finished answering a question from a local media outlet and ended the call prematurely because the alarm wasn’t a drill and later required an investigation from U.S. Capitol Police, who later told The Post-Journal that no one was hurt. A spokeswoman said the building was evacuated and that a search completed by Capitol Police revealed no hazardous material. As of yesterday afternoon, the exact nature of the alarm was being investigated by Capitol Police.
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