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Diabetes advocates prepare for the 2021 legislative session

Will transparency of prescription drug costs help prices go down?
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jan 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 08:14:33-05

TULSA, Okla. — Diabetes advocates in Oklahoma say their mission is more important now than ever before.

A mother of a type-one diabetic told 2 Works for You that legislators can't afford to push progress off for another year.

The 2021 legislative session in Oklahoma starts on February 1st.

Diabetes advocates are pleading with state legislators, the diabetes caucus is introducing seven bills on the floor that they say require action now. Those seven bills are centered around diabetes funding and reform.

One diabetes advocate, Kim Koleber, said, “let’s invest today, so we don’t have to pay more down the road.”

Koleber fought on the behalf of diabetics in Oklahoma for thirty-three years. Her daughter, Megan, was diagnosed with type-one diabetes after a battle with the flu when she was three-years-old.

Koleber said Megan's diagnosis was influenced by the flu virus, and Americans are experiencing something similar with the Coronavirus.

The CDC reports 40% of people killed by COVID-19 also had diabetes.

“We’ve talked about diabetes being at epidemic proportions before the pandemic or pre-pandemic and now we have an epidemic of diabetes meeting the pandemic and now that’s just equal to a crisis," Koleber said.

Koleber told 2 Works for You she fears what diabetes in America will look like post-pandemic.

COVID's impact on the diabetic community isn't the sole focus this legislative session, it's also about bringing down the cost of insulin and diabetes management equipment.

"A vial of insulin that used to cost $20-$30 is now ten times that amount. Over $300 for one vial," Koleber said.

The seven bills they are introducing were drafted by State Senator Carri Hicks in the legislature's diabetes caucus.

According to Integris, Oklahoma is fourth in the nation for diabetes-related deaths and the coronavirus creates even more risk.

Research is still being done to determine how likely diabetes is to develop from COVID-19.

In the state legislature, committee chairs have two weeks to call for a bill hearing before it's tabled.

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