Would You Kill Me For a Tax Cut?
By: Ashlyn Mills
Blog: A Trail Of Test Strips
Before I get into the meat of this issue, I want you to imagine something…
Would You Kill Me For a Tax Cut?
By: Ashlyn Mills
Blog: A Trail Of Test Strips
It’s of no surprise that many of Americans are struggling to afford their prescription drugs as prices continue to rise. But yet, little attention has been brought to the diabetes community. Where millions are dependent on a drug (hormone) that is needed everyday to stay alive.
Diabetes has been around a very long time. There was a prescription for frequent urination, its most common symptom, on an Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1500 B.C.
But it wasn’t until 1921 when a Canadian doctor named Dr. Frederick G. Banting and a medical student, Charles H. Best discovered insulin. Before insulin, the only treatment for Type 1 Diabetes was a starvation diet that inevitably led to death.
In 1923, Dr. Frederick G. Banting sold the patent to the University of Toronto for $3 in hopes to ensure that no company could have a monopoly over this life-sustaining medication and everyone could have access to it. The discovery has transformed diabetes from a death sentence into a manageable disease.
But once the University gave pharmaceutical companies the right to manufacture the drug royalty-free, diabetes quickly became their most profitable cash cow.
Insulin is a billion-dollar industry with zero low-priced generic versions on the market. While most name-brand drugs have generic versions that cost less than half the price, insulin is different.
Drug company officials defend their actions, saying they must bring in enough money for research and development. But critics say companies are hiding behind the innovation argument and are really just angling for bigger profits as the demand continues to rise for the drugs they sell.
There has been debate whether these newer versions are worth the cost. The replacing insulin derived from animals with a genetically engineered human form has been beneficial. But beyond that, the cost is still high for the older and newer insulins on the market, and insurance companies decide what they will cover regardless.
When accused of price hikes, blame also gets placed on the middlemen. The middlemen happen to be the wholesalers, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). PBM’s are blamed for taking a piece of the pie. The rebate system is based primarily on the percentage of the drug’s list price. So as drug prices continue to rise, the rebates do as well. Meaning everyone benefits in the end, as long as everyone gets their share.
The price of insulin that has continued to rise over the years has led many into debt, bankruptcy, and even to the point of rationing insulin (which can cause complications or death). Millions of diabetics and their family members are struggling more than ever to afford not only their insulin but food and other basic necessities.
While there are patient assistance programs available, not everyone qualifies. One must apply and meet specific requirements. If accepted, a PAP may not always cover the insulin that a patient is recommended to use. Insulin isn’t a ‘one shoe fits all’ type of medication.
Insulin is monopolized by the 3 big pharmaceutical companies — Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk — and the price for the insulin products made by those manufacturers has risen astronomically over the last decade. Humalog, a form of insulin that carried a sticker price of $21 a vial in 1996, today costs $255. A 34-year-old form of insulin, Humulin, priced at $17 a vial in 1997 now costs $138 a vial. Many diabetics also may need more than one vial of insulin a month.
The American Diabetes Association’s board of directors is calling on Congress to hold hearings to investigate dramatic increases in insulin prices and to take action to ensure that people have affordable access to the essential drug.
Many in the diabetes community (whether diabetics or parents) are taking to social media in the form of hashtags and elongated posts to express their frustration and desperation for change. The desire of millions is to find a cure for diabetes. But many have come to grips with the assumption that the cure will never come because the pharmaceutical companies won’t allow it. Our lives are in the hands of pharmaceutical greed and we need the price gouging of life-sustaining medication to end.
Bernie Sanders has recently brought attention to the Justice Department to investigate price increases and possible price collusion. But the insulin drug companies later rejected accusations.
President Donald Trump has also shared his dismay with the drug companies on the campaign trail and in recent press conferences. His interest is in finding solutions to fix the broken prescription drug market.
“They are getting away with murder”
Nearly 6 million Americans — young and old depend on insulin to stay alive. Insulin is not a luxury, it’s a necessity of life. We need transparency, affordability, and access to all.
Insulin is our right because, without it, we die.
(Courtesy of Netflix)
Last week season 2 of Fuller House (sequel to the original Full House) hit Netflix. A popular sitcom that many have grown up with, watched, or have heard of.
As soon as the season was released on Netflix, many of those in the diabetes community shared their thoughts of disappointment. About a comment that was made in a Halloween episode referencing “Juvenile Diabetes“.
The scene is of one of the child’s friends saying how “uncool” the Fuller House was for giving out raisins instead of candy, and for handing out Juvenile Diabetes pamphlets.
While the comment is used for comedy as a punchline; it’s a misconception that sugar causes diabetes and it feeds into the stigma many live with everyday. Juvenile Diabetes also known as (Type 1 Diabetes) is an autoimmune disease and can cause serious complications or death if not properly treated.
Sugar will NOT cause “Juvenile Diabetes”.
Childhood obesity is a real issue and raises the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, but there is absolutely no link between obesity and Juvenile Diabetes or (Type 1 Diabetes).
Having such a lovable and relatable cast, it’s important for these influencers to understand the impact that is made. Stating that diabetes is linked to sugar and unhealthy food gives the assumption or notion that if you eat healthy you will never get diabetes. Which is very untrue!
The joke isn’t ideal for people living with diabetes or their loved ones. But it’s an optimum opportunity to educate and to set the record straight.
For just educating one person, could make a world of difference.
Trump’s Plan To Replace Obamacare But Still Keep Those With Pre-existing Conditions Including Diabetes Covered
Following the election on November 8, many in the diabetes community are concerned and questioning their future healthcare coverage as President Elect Trump will enter the White House. The Affordable Care Act–Obamacare is presumed to be repealed and replaced as part of his 100 day plan.
The Affordable Care Act was implemented for many with pre-existing conditions as it provides insurance to over 20 million people; includhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Acting those with Type 1 Diabetes. It was intentioned to increase health insurance quality and affordability, lower the uninsured rate by expanding insurance coverage and reduce the costs of healthcare.
But as of late there has been an outcry over insurance premium costs rising. Costs have been steadily increasing over the past few years and will be expected to be even higher in 2017. Many health insurance plans such as UnitedHealth opted out of Obamacare due to hundered of millions of dollars in losses. Leaving those insured by Obamacare left with not as many options.
With the higher premiums and deductibles, many patients aren’t able to afford or recieve many benefits. Copayments are high and drug formularies are restrictive. Patients are often restricted to lower quality blood glucose meters and still have to come out of pocket up to (50% or more) after the deducticle for durable medical equipment (DME) to manage Type 1 Diabetes; including insulin pumps, CGMs, and other diabetes medical equipement.
What what to expect next? That’s the question we are all wondering.
Will the diabetes community still be given access to healthcare despite pre-existing conditions?
The process to repeal this federal statute will need a supermajority by the Senate composed of 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. But Senate rules also allow bills to pass with a simple majority if they only relate to spending, a process known as reconciliation. Reconciliation bills need to be approved by a parliamentarian, who certifies that the content does indeed have budgetary impact.
But in order to repeal there must be a replacement plan. While it’s in question whether or not this would cause millions with pre-existing conditions to lose health insurance altogether.
Trump has stated that he plans to take care of everyone, and to a higher degree that we are taken care of now. He states he will “not allow people to die on the sidewalks and the streets of our country” for lack of access to health insurance.
Here is the current position paper on health care reform as stated on Trump’s website:
Congress must act. Our elected representatives in the House and Senate must:
1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.
2. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.
3. Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.
4. Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.
5. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.
6. Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
7. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.