We brought more than 180 advocates from 34 states to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 29 through Friday, March 31 for our 2017 Call to Congress. The group included adults and children living with diabetes, family members and caregivers of people with diabetes, researchers, physicians and diabetes care providers. We were also joined by more than 30 members of Team Tackle, an initiative that brings together current and former professional football players and the Association to focus on raising awareness of diabetes and prediabetes.
During a press conference at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, we outlined the state of the diabetes epidemic and called on Congress to protect access to adequate health insurance for people living with diabetes, to increase federal funding to support and drive diabetes research and programs and to ensure that lifesaving insulin is accessible for all who need it. U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, spoke at the press conference, in addition to:
· George King, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School shared the impact of his more than 35 years in diabetes research,
· Kyle Love, defensive end for Carolina’s professional football team, spoke about his diabetes diagnosis, his family history of diabetes and his goals as a member of Team Tackle;
· Patient advocate and mother Kathy Sego shared her family’s diabetes journey with their now-college sophomore son who has type 1 diabetes; and
· Certified Diabetes Nurse Educator and President of the Granite State Diabetes Educators Liz Kennett from New Hampshire.
At the press conference, we also delivered our “Make Insulin Affordable” petition, signed by more than 235,000 people since November 2016, to Sens. Shaheen and Collins. The high cost of insulin has impacted many Americans. The affordability issue is a complex one, and the insulin supply chain includes many entities. We asked for Congress’ help to work with all of the stakeholders in the supply chain to identify the catalysts for the cost increases and to create viable solutions for all Americans who depend on this life-saving medicine.
Following the press conference, advocates went on to hold 189 meetings with members of Congress and their staff. The three-day event also consisted of key advocacy training, where all attendees received critical insight into the Association’s legislative priorities, tips for making their Congressional meetings most effective and instructions on how to continue their advocacy efforts in their hometowns.
By sharing their personal stories on Capitol Hill and putting a face to this epidemic that affects nearly 116 million Americans, our diabetes advocates illustrated precisely why our leaders in Congress must take action now to stop diabetes. It’s not too late to join the fight against diabetes. Sign up today to become an advocate and help us improve the lives of all people affected by this disease!