'Choose their life or their rent': Local diabetes patients back insulin plan

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Jun. 28—PLATTSBURGH — Connor Sargeant and Morgan Thomas, two local people living with Type 1 diabetes, know all too well what it is like to have to deal with the high cost of insulin.

Thomas and Sargeant flanked U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer at a news conference Tuesday at University of Vermont Healthcare Network CVPH in Plattsburgh to urge support for a bill that would cap insulin costs at $35.

ONE THING TO CONTROL

Thomas, who is also a nurse at CVPH, said she sees first-hand how not being able to afford insulin can affect a patient with diabetes.

"I not only see how diabetes affects me and my younger brother, I see patients come in with Diabetic ketoacidosis, also known as DKA, due to rationing insulin and not having enough to keep their blood sugar in a safe range," Thomas said.

"It is crucial that we find a way to help everyone with diabetes across the country by making the insulin that keeps them alive affordable. There might not be a cure for diabetes right now but hopefully it will come in the near future. However, one thing we can for sure control right now is the cost of insulin."

'THEIR LIFE OR THEIR RENT'

Thomas told the Press-Republican that everybody should be on board with this bill.

"Those who are against it, just put it in perspective of looking at your own family member and if they had diabetes and they were struggling to pay and they had to choose either their life or their rent," she said.

"Are you going to let them die? Or are you going to let them have a better affordability for their insulin that keeps them alive?"

'ONE BIG WORRY'

Sargeant, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 5 years old, said this bill would eliminate one stress associated with his diabetes.

"One big thing not to worry about anymore is, 'Am I going to get paid enough for this?'...And not having to worry about where to find insurance, especially for us we kind of have to pick our jobs around it to get the coverage for whatever it costs a month," he said.

"But, $35, we won't have to worry about that. We can always find $35 to keep ourselves alive."

'WILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE'

Vice President of Population Health & Information Services at CVPH, Wouter Rietsema, MD, added that this bill is "a great start."

"Anything that you can do, that we can do, to reduce out of pocket expenses for insulin for our patients, will make a huge difference," Rietsema said.

"About a third of people in our region either have diabetes or pre diabetes. and that's adults — that does not count for children. We know poor control of diabetes leads to significant other diseases, heart disease, kidney disease, loss of vision, amputations...

"There is a ton of work going on around diabetes. This bill is critically important...but that's only part of the puzzle; we need to continue to do more."

Email: cnewton@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: CarlySNewton