Diabetes Forecast

A Time for Frank Talk

By Henry Rodriguez, MD, Associate Editor ,

In the course of our upbringing, many of us were taught by our parents to avoid the topics of politics and religion in polite conversation. But there are times when reluctance to engage in political discussion can jeopardize the foundations of our democracy—as well as the interests of individuals. Given our shared concern for people with diabetes, there can be little doubt that health care reform is critically necessary.

As I write this editorial I am sure that you, like me, have been overwhelmed, frustrated, and possibly enraged by the flood of rhetoric over this issue. Our president underscored the importance of health care reform in September by making it the subject of his second speech to a joint session of Congress. The American Diabetes Association and other health advocacy groups have been working diligently to provide valuable insight into the progress of the reform proposals. It is my hope that the issue will have been resolved to the benefit of people with diabetes and other chronic diseases by the time this editorial goes to press.

As a pediatrician, I've witnessed firsthand the consequences of the current state of our nation's health insurance system. Unemployed parents, already suffering the economic impact of their loss of income, have their worries compounded: They fear they won't be able to pay for the care of a child afflicted with an acute illness, let alone the supplies necessary for the day-to-day management of a chronic disease such as diabetes. Young adults seeking independent employment after graduating from high school or completing their college education must factor in the insurance benefits that a prospective job may offer for fear that their basic medical needs will otherwise not be met.

I hope that Congress will be successful in forging a bill that meets two basic tests:

  • It should cover preexisting conditions (and all chronic diseases), with the assurance that necessary medical supplies, including those for diabetes care, are affordable.
  • It should ensure that insurance coverage will be portable, so that people changing or losing jobs will be provided with continuedquality and affordable coverage.

We must remain active in advocating for ourselves, our loved ones, and our patients. There are many interests that would shape legislation to the detriment of people with diabetes—even if unintentionally—and these interests have substantial funding and political influence. Without considerable and ongoing effort, health care reform will be lost. So, please join me and the legions of your fellow diabetes advocates in aising awareness of the plight of those with diabetes and other chronic diseases.

It is up to us to make our voices heard. I'm sure your mom and dad would approve.



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