Monday, March 20, 2006

Your Chance

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, health insurance companies in Massachusetts were under no obligation to pay for diabetes supplies - supplies like test strips and lancets, syringes and insulin. Because the cost of these items was astronomical, and because my parents weren't flush with extra cash, we made do. Other diabetics diagnosed before or during the early 80s, I'm sure, have similar stories to mine -- cutting test strips, both urine and blood strips into fours, wiping the tips of lancets with alcohol and using them multiple times (yeah, yeah, I know -- since that time, I've dropped the alcohol from that equation), sterilizing syringes in boiling water to get multiple uses from them.

At eleven years old, I was approached at an American Diabetes Association Family Weekend -- held at the Clara Barton Camp and asked to become a Diabetes Youth Advocate for the ADA's Annual Youth Congress held in Washington, DC. Interested as I was in issues around diabetes, and with a talent for and comfort with public speaking, I agreed to give it a go. Now -- this wasn't just a free trip to DC -- Youth Advocates were expected to advocate on a statewide level for diabetes-related issues and were expected to make regular appearances - in front of city groups, other kids with diabetes, etc year round. Additionally, I attended meetings at ADA headquarters in Framingham and volunteered at ADA events.

So -- I was introduced to diabetes issues early. I am proud to say that as a teenager, I helped to ensure that the Americans with Disabilites Act was passed and signed into law.

I was also part of the ADA team that fought for legislation that mandated insurance coverage for people with diabetes in Massachusetts. Youth advocates and their families and other people with diabetes and other chronic medical conditions fought to pass similar legislation in 45 other states.

Now -- it's your turn. The piece that follows is partly excerpted from an email from the American Diabetes Association. It discusses a bill that's in the United States Senate right now that, if passed, could have an impact on people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes around the country. Please take a moment to read the piece, poke around and research a bit if you need to, and consider making a call to your U.S. Senators asking them to oppose this legislation.

With the help of thousands of Americans like you, the ADA has helped to pass laws requiring insurers to cover diabetes education, equipment, and supplies in small business health policies in 46 states. To date, our supporters have helped protect those 46 state laws from being rolled back by opposing misguided bills in state legislatures or by opposing AHP legislation in Congress.

Without question, these 46 state laws face their gravest threat yet from a bill in the US Senate.

S. 1955, also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act, would not only allow the creation of AHPs that can skirt the 46 state laws for small business health plans, it would also allow all state-regulated health insurance policies to bypass those laws. This means that in addition to small business health plans, all state-regulated health insurance -- like individual policies, for example -- would also lose their guarantee of required coverage of lifesaving diabetes items.

Supporters of this bill believe they are helping more Americans get health insurance coverage. However, coverage under these policies either covers diabetes needs inadequately or prices them out of reach of many Americans if it covers those needs at all. In short, S. 1955 will be devastating for millions of people with diabetes across the country.

Despite a strong effort by Advocates from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee members' states, S. 1955 passed in that Committee by a vote of 11-9 on Tuesday. Now this bill will go to the Senate floor for a vote. If there was ever a time for you to take action -- emailing your Senators, calling them, or visiting them -- this is it.

We strongly urge you to send an email and fax to your Senators at minimum (below). If you understand the seriousness of this situation and want to put up our best fight to preserve insurance coverage for people with diabetes, here's how you can help further:

Call your Senators:

This link will give you the phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses for your US Senators:

Call or email today!

You can find talking points regarding opposition to S. 1955 here:

Get talking points on what to say opposing S.1955.

Visit your Senators during their recess (it begins tomorrow afternoon):

You will need to call your Senators' District Offices in your State and schedule a meeting. You can find that information by clicking the link above for phone numbers/contact information and then clicking on your specific Senators name when you find it.

If you visit, bring this document to help with what to say, then leave it behind with the Senators or their staffers.

Call some friends and make an outing of it! I speak from experience -- you'll be amazed at how empowering it is.

Stepping down from Soapbox and returning to work now...


Rachel said...

Thank you for posting all about this - it is so important as we all know.

Also, reading about your time as a youth advocate for the ADA helped me make my decision to go ahead and participate in Diabetes Day at the Colorado State Capitol.

Penny said...

Senator Burr and Senator Dole have been emailed. This blog has been sent to all my friends and family to act on too. Thank you for this post.

KSC said...

Thanks for the post - I have emailed my senator. What an insidious way to undermine good monitoring for families who are already one-under managing their care. Thanks again for the outreach!

Shannon said...

JDRF sent me an email about this. I too am contacting my senator.

julia said...

I'm contacting my senators, too. I'll also forward the message to everyone and anyone I can think of.

Nicole P said...

Thank you, guys. I know our efforts will make a difference.

Andrea said...

I also sent in an email to Senator Dodd (CT)...

Thanks for letting us know about this important issue ;)

Sandra Miller said...


Thank you for posting this.

I just read this entry today-- and wrote about this issue on my blog this afternoon.

Emails have been sent to both Senators Feingold and Kohl.

You're absolutely right, we have to do everything we can to stop this thing.

Scott K. Johnson said...

I too have e-mail my representatives.

Meredith said...

I've been looking for information on how the committee vote went, although I'm fairly certain it went along party lines. Do you happen to have that information?

I'm guessing that Senator Kennedy did not vote in favor of it, and that he and Kerry will not vote in favor of it on the Senate floor.


Nicole P said...

Sandra -- I'll have to trot over to your blog now!

Meredith -- The vote was 11-9, right along party lines, with all Republicans voting for and all Democrats in opposition. Sen. Kennedy, who is on the committee, was opposed.

It is especially vital for those living in States with Republican representation to call/write/visit their Senators on this issue.

Penny said...

Both of my Senators are Republicans and they have both been emailed. I hope it helps.

Kerri. said...

You rally the troups like no other, Nicole. My senators are being drafted a letter as we speak.

justme said...


Thanks for the comment you left on my blog. I look forward to reading yours in the furture!

justme said...

hope it's okay if I link to you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for helping fight against this terrible legislation. Anyone reading this blog should not just say "that's terrible" and shrug their shoulders. Take Action! Call or e-mail your won't take more than 5 minutes.

Diabetes Advocate said...

Great work! We can only win on this issue if we stick together.

Anonymous said...

Another bad news is if s1955 passes we will loose our chiropractic benefits. So we either pay out of our own pocket or are forced to taking toxic anti-inflammatory medications that cause stroke and heart attack. Lets defeat this bill that its sole purpose is to increase the pfofit for the insurance companies. The ENZI bill will override the power of local government to keep insurance companies in line.