The Endocrine Society’s Ongoing Diabetes Advocacy

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November is Diabetes Awareness Month, an important opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges facing over 37 million people who live with diabetes in the U.S. I am proud of the Endocrine Society’s work advocating for improved prevention, more research, greater access, and lower insulin costs, as well as our contributions to sharing the latest science and improving clinical education. Our members have played a pivotal role in advancing our policy and advocacy priorities on this issue.

This year, we celebrated an important milestone in our years’ long effort to make insulin more affordable. On August 16, President Joseph R. Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. This legislation included a landmark measure to make insulin more affordable. The new law institutes a $35 per month cap on out-of-pocket costs of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries, which will take effect in 2023. The law will also allow Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs. This provision will not go into effect until 2026, because it will take time to set up this new program. This historic new law is the result of years of advocacy by the Society to make this lifesaving drug more affordable for people living with diabetes. The Society authored an insulin affordability position statement with recommendations to policymakers. We worked with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, including the bipartisan leaders of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, to build consensus for meaningful solutions to address this longstanding issue. We also conducted congressional briefings to educate policy makers, testified before Congress, conducted Hill Days, attended congressional meetings, and participated in grassroots advocacy. This work could not have been done without the participation of our members.

The Society remains committed to ensuring that all people with diabetes have access to affordable insulin.

While this new law is an important step forward, more work needs to be done to make insulin more affordable for people not on Medicare. During the Senate consideration of the Inflation Reduction Act, a provision that would have applied the $35 co-pay cap to the private insurance market was removed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has committed to revisiting this issue before the end of the year. However, the end of the year will bring many competing legislative priorities. We will continue to urge the Senate to take up this legislation before the end of the year to expand the co-pay cap to the private insurance market. The Society remains committed to ensuring that all people with diabetes have access to affordable insulin.

As we look ahead to 2023, there will be more opportunities for the Society to raise awareness on issues related to diabetes. Funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) will expire on September 30, 2023. The SDP is a critically important program that funds type 1 diabetes research and prevention programs for American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN). The SDP funding has been used to advance new technology to manage diabetes, such as the artificial pancreas. The SDP has also helped to reduce the complications of type 2 diabetes in AI/AN populations. Congress will need to take action to reauthorize this critically important program. The Society will advocate for a full five-year reauthorization of the SDP.  We will also be working to ensure that Congress passes an appropriations bill for FY 2023 that provides steady, sustainable increases in funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This funding will allow researchers to continue making groundbreaking discoveries in diabetes research and will continue funding for critical programs to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Finally, our work does not stop with Congress. We are also partnering with the NIH and the CDC to raise awareness of important issues impacting people with diabetes, and we are collaborating with the White House on this topic. Most recently, we provided input and recommendations to the White House on its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. This national strategy, which included several of our recommendations to support diabetes and obesity prevention programs, was unveiled at a conference hosted by the White House in September.

This funding will allow researchers to continue making groundbreaking discoveries in diabetes research and will continue funding for critical programs to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program.

While we have had tremendous success this year, our work will continue in 2023. Thanks to all of you who have helped advance these efforts. Your voices are critical components in the work we do to advocate for these issues. For those of you not yet involved, we encourage you to join us in advancing these important priorities.

To learn more about how you can participate in our diabetes advocacy, please contact us at [email protected].  

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