Diabetes Canada disappointed with absence of insulin pump coverage in recent BC budget
On February 21, the provincial budget was tabled in the legislature by Finance Minister Michael de Jong. Unfortunately, the budget did not include lifting the age restriction of the current insulin pump program to include all medically eligible residents living with type 1 diabetes, regardless of age.
“This news is disappointing as people with diabetes have been advocating to the government to make this important investment that is not only proven to improve a person’s quality of life, but at the same time presents cost savings to the province’s health-care system,” says Sheila Kern, regional director for British Columbia and Yukon with Diabetes Canada. “Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease, and those who face it deserve better than having to make the choice between the cost of an insulin pump or putting food on the table or paying rent.”
People living with type 1 diabetes are at high risk of developing serious and costly long-term complications such as kidney failure, stroke, heart attack and limb amputation. For medically eligible individuals, switching from multiple daily insulin injections to an insulin pump can improve diabetes management and reduce these serious complications. Currently, the province excludes people with type 1 diabetes over the age of 25 from the insulin pump program, even dropping individuals from the program at age 26, regardless of their ongoing need for a pump.
“It’s an issue of fairness. Individuals over 25 remain without public support for an insulin pump. The voices of hundreds of British Columbians who recently sent letters or called their local MLAs about this issue have not been heard and we will continue to bring this issue to the attention of the government and all party candidates in the coming election,” says Joan King, BC lead for government relations and advocacy with Diabetes Canada.
Diabetes Canada is also encouraging the government to increase access to newer diabetes medications, so British Columbians with diabetes can improve their immediate quality of life and decrease the likelihood of future interventions, which are often more costly and less effective. “British Columbia is the only remaining province that does not list a class of medication known as SGLT2 inhibitors on the provincial formulary; this barrier is something we want to see removed, so people with diabetes can optimally manage their health,” says King.
To share your voice with your local MLA to expand the provincial insulin pump program, visit pumpsforbc.ca.