Diabetes Canada is concerned with the recent budget tabled by B.C. Finance Minister Carole James which once again did not include the expansion of the existing insulin pump coverage for all residents living with type 1 diabetes, regardless of age.
“We had been hopeful for better news this year given the campaign promise in the government’s 2017 election platform included expansion of the insulin pump program,” says Sheila Kern, regional director for British Columbia and Yukon for Diabetes Canada. “Type 1 diabetes is a complicated and lifelong disease and those living with it deserve better than having to make the choice between the cost of an insulin pump or putting food on the table.”
For medically eligible individuals, an insulin pump will not only improve their quality of life, but can improve blood sugar management and postpone or prevent serious complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. Currently, the province excludes people with type 1 diabetes over the age of 25 from the insulin pump program, even dropping individuals from the program at age 26, regardless of their ongoing need for a pump.
“It’s an issue of fairness. Individuals over 25 remain without public support for an insulin pump,” says Kern. “Not investing in diabetes care will only put pressure on our emergency rooms and hospitals caring for people with costly complications of diabetes.”
Diabetes Canada also asks the provincial government to list diabetes medication with proven efficacy on the provincial drug formulary in a timely fashion and commit to prioritize amputation prevention for British Columbians with diabetes by committing to public funding of foot care treatments and foot specialists visits, and improving screening and education.
“I am disappointed in the B.C. government's lack of understanding that people like me require insulin pump therapy to maintain our health,” says Marilyn Wolovick, who lives with type 1 diabetes in Victoria. “Using an insulin pump is not a convenience. With the support of my health-care team, my insulin pump keeps my blood sugar under control and I can avoid the serious and more costly complications of diabetes."
The budget didn’t completely ignore British Columbians living with diabetes and Diabetes Canada acknowledges a couple of important inclusions:
$105 million investment in the Fair Pharmacare program to reduce cost of prescription drugs and devices for families with household incomes under $45,000; Deductibles eliminated for families with net incomes below $30,000 and deductibles reduced for families with incomes below $45,000.
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