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People to Know 2019: Kim Schrier

By Miriam E. Tucker ,

Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA)

A diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at age 16 led Kim Schrier, MD, to two distinct but related career paths: medical and political.

After practicing pediatrics for 17 years, she’s now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-WA), with health care one of her signature issues. As the only woman physician in Congress, Schrier, 51, aims to bring her medical expertise to policies affecting kids, women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.

Following the 2016 presidential election, when the future of the Affordable Care Act was thrown into doubt, Schrier thought to herself, “Who better to speak to this than a community pediatrician with her own preexisting condition?” Indeed, who better to fight for the rights of people with chronic illnesses than a congresswoman who wears an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) as she runs from one Capitol Hill event to another?

Since taking office in January, she’s been working to ensure that all Americans can afford the care and medications they need. In her role as cochair of the New Democrat Coalition’s Health Care Task Force, Schrier helped introduce a set of goals for strengthening states’ health plan exchanges while simultaneously working toward universal affordable health care.

In April, she cosponsored a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing the cost of insulin by making it easier for companies to bring lower-cost versions of brand-name insulins to the U.S. market. “My insulin has tripled in price in the last 10 years and now costs $260 [a vial], which is in between the price of Chanel No. 5 [perfume] and cobra venom,” she said at the time. “The cost of insulin is a life-or-death issue.”

And in May, she voted for the Protecting Americans With Preexisting Conditions Act, which would prevent states from promoting health insurance plans that don’t cover important benefits, such as mental health and prenatal care. Such plans could also restrict coverage for preexisting conditions such as diabetes. “As someone with a preexisting condition, I understand the limbo and uncertainty that families across this country are facing,” Schrier said at the time of her vote. “We must bring back some certainty into the health care system.”

Miriam E. Tucker was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1973 at the age of 9. She’s been a medical journalist since the mid-1980s, with a special focus on diabetes. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post and on NPR’s health blog, and she’s a regular contributor to Medscape.com and Diabetes Forecast.

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