Diabetics fight for rights to life-saving insulin and healthcare

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Several Utah representatives joined with T1International, a nonprofit organization, to discuss the barriers diabetics face in seeking access to proper healthcare and insulin on Wednesday at the Utah State Capitol.

“Today is all about making sure that the state moves forward on relieving the burden for individuals and families with Diabetes,” said Norm Thurston, a Utah State representative. “There are some big blocks in the road for some of these families.

These roadblocks, according to Thurston, include affordability,- it’s too expensive- lack of access to care, and education.

“Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. So once that happens, there’s no way around that,” said Stephanie Arceneaux, Utah Insulin for all Chapter Media Lead.

Arceneaux said that insulin has become very expensive, and even for those with insurance, it has become unaffordable. In fact, she said that one in four people currently need to ration their insulin, which is extremely dangerous and can lead to organ failure.

“Insulin is something that every person with Type 1 Diabetes needs to live,” she said. “If they don’t have it, they will not live.”

T1International is a nonprofit organization whose leaders have or are impacted by Type 1 Diabetes. The organization’s mission is to help those in local communities advocate for affordable access to life-saving insulin and diabetes supplies. In Utah, there are about 350 chapter members.

Representatives Marsha Judkins, Mark A. Strong, and Raymond Ward also expressed their support for helping Diabetics gain access to healthcare, supplies, and insulin. Representative Strong, one of four Type 1 Diabetics in his immediate family, shared how his friend’s quality of life drastically improved after receiving a continuous glucose monitor to monitor his blood sugar.

“The ability to properly manage Diabetes is crucial,” Strong said.

For Arceneaux, this problem is close to home. She, her husband, and her 4-year-old son all have Type 1 Diabetes. She says though she has great insurance, she has to pay $1,000 a month for insulin on top of a $600 premium.

“We can’t afford that,” she said. “Right now, personally, I rely on the kindness of strangers to get us by to provide what we need to live.”

Arceneaux’s message is that pharmaceutical companies, Pharmacy Benefit Managers, and insurance companies step up and do what they can to help in this area.

“We’re grateful that the insulin is available… but we need it to be affordable,” she said. “We deserve to live a long and healthy life just like anyone else, and we want them to help us in that endeavor.”

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