Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Adult Pump Program

I said it was time to get back to the grind. Time to get down to brass tacks. Time to tackle the big issues and sure enough the government agreed. On Monday I heard the news that pre-budget consultations were beginning at the end of the week. No pressure there! I knew that if I wanted to see an adult pump program in 2010 there was only one thing to do...get to work!

Last year I had worked with a number of people. We had gathered information. We had devised strategies. We were set. We hit the radios. We were in the newspapers. We met with politicians and wrote letters. Unfortunately we also were met with a recession and our chances of expanding the existing insulin pump program were crushed under the burden of a depressed economy.

2010 is a new year. Things are looking up. The economy of Newfoundland and Labrador is better than many. This year we stand a chance if someone takes the lead. I had a group already in mind. I had parents whose children were now young adults. They would be perfect to speak but many of these parents were busy so the best plan of attack was to have literature prepared for them in advance. That is what I did yesterday--I planned, I wrote, and I emailed. I created a letter to be sent to the submissions committee. It could be passed to friends and they could email it as well. It would take minutes but the impact could be incredible. How many submissions could we send in if I sent it and then asked 5 friends to do the same. Those five friends each sent the email and asked five of their friends to do the same. The impact would be huge. Just look what happened on Facebook last week when we were asked to post our bra color for the day. It can be done. I have sent my email...actually I have a few more people to email yet. I know that some of them are forwarding the instructions on to their friends already. This can make a difference.

The cost of expanding the insulin pump program to adults in this province is minimal. There is little infrastructure required as most is already in place for youth. There is little training involved as there will most likely not be a lot of new pumpers. The benefit will be to those already pumping and to the young adults who turn 18 and find themselves with no means to continue their pump therapy. We need to protect them. We need to help those retirees who will no longer have their pumps and supplies covered by their insurance with their reduced "retirement plans". We need to protect our loved ones with diabetes. If we can improve their quality of care then we will reduce the burden that the health care system will see if they develop complications.

We can do this. You can do this. If you live in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador or know someone who does, send the following email to them. Have them send it to budgetsubmissions@gov.nl.ca Ask them to send it to their friends. Let's see real public pressure this time around. Let us help the government see sense!

Pre-budget submission 2010: Adult Insulin Pump Program

In 2007, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador became the third province to provide coverage for insulin pumps and supplies to their youngest residents. In 2010, we are asking this government to continue with this mandate towards superior provincial health care and extend this benefit to all citizens of the province living with insulin dependent diabetes.

It is estimated that diabetes will affect over 3 million Canadians in 2010. Newfoundland and Labrador will be the hardest hit as it has the highest incidence of diabetes in the country. The medical costs of those living with diabetes are two to three times higher than those who are not living with diabetes. Direct costs from this disease can range from $1000-$15,000 annually and the cost to the Canadian health care system is expected to reach $15.6 billion this year and $19.2 billion by 2020. By taking a proactive approach to diabetes care through insulin pump therapy, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador can begin to seriously reduce the enormous costs of this disease on the health care system.

When diabetes is managed with advanced treatment options such as basal/bolus insulin regimens, insulin pumps, regular blood glucose testing and Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems, there is a very real decrease in the amount of time spent in the hospital and a very real decrease in the cost to the health care system. There is a 76% decrease in retinopathy (eye disease), 34-56% decrease in kidney disease, and 69% decrease in neuropathy (nerve disease) in intensively treated patients with diabetes versus those who use more outdated methods. Reductions in these diseases as well as a reduction in hospitalization for poor diabetes control adds up to a large fiscal savings.

Currently residents of Newfoundland and Labrador under 18 years of age are privy to much of this advanced treatment. The current insulin pump program allows the children of Newfoundland and Labrador who are living with diabetes to avail of the best medical care available to them. Sadly, when they turn 18 years of age they must sacrifice their care unless their personal finances allow them to take over their own health care costs. The reality is that many young people cannot afford to do this. They are put in a position where they must choose to leave the province to find either higher paying jobs or ones with more comprehensive benefit packages or stay at home and sacrifice their health with less effective insulin regimens.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has the power to change this in their 2010 budget. Expanding the insulin pump program to adults in this province will not have many of the costs associated with the initial program. Many adults who would avail of such a program are already insulin pump users and thereby removing the need for much of the training services otherwise required. In the most highly saturated markets, it is thought that only 35% of those eligible choose to use an insulin pump. In Newfoundland and Labrador, this translates to approximately 500 adults, 30% of whom would most likely have existing coverage. An expansion of the insulin pump program would therefore cost the government a maximum of $1.3 million per year in insulin pumps and supplies.

Insulin pump therapy has a huge impact on the lives of people living with diabetes. This group is at a high risk for depression but insulin pump therapy has been shown to improve quality of life and provide for a better self image.

We therefore respectfully ask that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador expand its insulin pump program to include all citizens of the province who have insulin dependent diabetes.


Diabetes Advocacy

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