(This article was written for a Tulsa World editorial by my amazing Mom, Kim Koleber)
Congress Needs To Pass Funding For Diabetes Programs!
Two groups stand to gain – or lose – a great deal from one piece of legislation now before Congress: people with Type 1 diabetes and Native Americans with Type 1 or Type 2. The Special Diabetes Program represents a significant proportion of the commitment from federal government to combat, cure and prevent diabetes. Without it, diabetes research will suffer substantially.
Under the bill, research into Type 1 and programs to prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes in Native Americans (nearly 17 percent of whom have diabetes, the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group) would each receive $1 billion in federal funding over five years, starting in 2011. This funding originally went into effect in 1998 and is due to expire in September 2011. There has not been an increase in funding for this program in 6 years, meaning each research dollar is stretched thinner and thinner and funding will end next year unless Congress takes action.
This is a program with a proven track record of success. Current funding has supported major clinical trials and other research being done on Type 1 diabetes, as well as programs that have prevented Type 2 diabetes and its complications for those most at risk.
Diabetes is an epidemic that affects nearly 24 million Americans, and another 57 million are at high risk for developing this devastating disease. These are incredibly high numbers that must be dealt with immediately. Here in Oklahoma 1 in 4 residents have already been diagnosed or will be in their lifetime. It cost our state nearly $2 billion in direct and indirect costs to treat this disease last year. My family is personally affected by this disease, as my daughter, Megan Ashley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a month before her 3rd birthday. That was 22 years ago and there is still NO CURE. She wears an insulin pump to stay alive and never takes “a day off” from diabetes. We want to “Stop Diabetes”, that is why we continue to share information, act by volunteering with the American Diabetes Association, and give to the cause…………..until there is a cure!
The re-authorization of the Special Diabetes Program is currently pending before Congress. Congress must act quickly to ensure continued advances in diabetes treatment and prevention. 24 million American lives depend on it today.