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Living with Diabetes: Mother-daughter duo push for lawmakers to help diabetics

Posted at 9:50 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-27 19:46:09-05

Chances are, you, someone you know, or someone you love has diabetes.

Over one in 10 Oklahomans have some form of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control,

Just days before Megan's third birthday her mom knew something wasn't right with her little girl.

"She had all the classic symptoms of thirst, lethargy and loss of weight," Kim Koleber said.

At first, Kim put Megan's symptoms down to a recent bout of flu, so she wasn't prepared for the pediatrician's diagnosis.

"Your daughter has Type 1 diabetes."

Kim said Megan spent a week in the intensive care unit then came home to a new life. It required close monitoring of Megan's blood sugar to avoid the complications of diabetes.

10 years after Megan's diagnosis, Kim read about the "Rally for a Cure" in Washington, D.C.

Attending sparked a passion in both mother and daughter to make sure lawmakers in Oklahoma and on Capitol Hill know the challenges faced by diabetics.

Now an adult and married, Megan Quickle and her mother are focusing on the skyrocketing cost of a vial of insulin.

"We want to know why they're charging $385 in the United States when they're charging $45 in Canada and Mexico," Megan said.

Type 1 diabetics require insulin to regulate blood sugar. Megan uses about four vials a month.

Congress is considering a measure to allow the use of bio-similar insulins in the United States.

Kim believes it will bring down the cost of all types of insulin.

She is also concerned about what she calls a road-block to FDA approval built into the legislation.

"If they have not been approved by the FDA by March of 2020, then they will be shut down and have to start all over," she said.

In Oklahoma, Megan and Kim work with state lawmakers, like Senator Carri Hicks (D) of Oklahoma City. Hicks is on the Legislative Diabetes Caucus and he knows the challenges of living with diabetes first-hand.

"Our son at 17 months old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and we were within 30 minutes of actually losing him," Hicks said.

She says it's the reason she understands the pressure the high cost of insulin puts on families.

"I think it's really unconscionable that we are asking families to make these difficult decisions whether or not you're going to able to afford your rent, your mortgage, your car payment, or be able to keep your child alive," Hick explains.

The Legislative Diabetes Caucus announced its agenda for the 2020 legislative session, including seven goals:

1. Develop multi-state relationships with Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) and Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP) partners and study strategies for referral, implementation, funding, expansion, marketing, telehealth usage and creating educational opportunities for healthcare providers

2. Provide an education/training opportunity for all DSME and DPP Oklahoma sites regarding SoonerCare’s coverage of DSME and HealthChoice’s coverage of DPP.

3. Re-establish connection with Oklahoma Association of Health Plans to collaborate on how to raise awareness among DSME and DPP providers of new state level health plans’ diabetes-related coverage.

4. Recommending 60 minutes of physical education and 60 minutes of physical activity in addition to the current 20-minute recess for state elementary schools, grades 1-5. Also recommending secondary schools provide at least 225 minutes of physical activity and education, exercise programs or athletics weekly.

5. Provide a comprehensive, age appropriate health education mandate for public schools to include a variety of topics such as nutrition, wellness and mental health.

6. Provide adequate insurance coverage for treatments necessary to manage diabetes or diabetes-related complications. Provide access to prescription drugs, devices, services and supplies as defined by American Diabetes Association Standards of Care.

7. Address and pass legislation for affordable medical care including live-saving insulin as well as requiring coverage information be easy to understand with transparent reports from health carriers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Megan and Kim will be on hand during the session to let state lawmakers know why they believe action needs to be taken to improve the lives of all Oklahomans living with diabetes.

"We want to make sure that every Oklahoman can access the tools they need to control either their Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes," Megan said.

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