The Crusader Newspaper Group

Op-Ed Access to treatment key to diabetes management

By Rep. Will Davis

For the more than 1.3 million people in Illinois living with diabetes, health care can become complicated with a chronic condition. As a legislator, I also recognize the critical need for diabetes sufferers statewide to be able to access and afford the care vital to their health.

On top of those diagnosed with diabetes in Illinois, another 37.5 percent of our state population has pre-diabetes. Without adequate attention to their health care, they may develop diabetes, which can lead to serious complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and even death.

Diabetes also disproportionately affects communities of color. African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, according to the Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. They also are more likely to suffer complications from diabetes, such as end-stage renal disease and lower extremity amputations.

It’s critical for people with diabetes to adhere to medication and wellness regimens to prevent complications but it’s expensive. Diabetes patients have medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. In Illinois alone, the ADA says diagnosed diabetes costs an estimated $12 billion yearly.

As chairman of the Health and Healthcare Disparities Committee, I’ve talked to countless people struggling with medication costs. They skip doses or simply don’t buy the medications. With diabetes, this can be deadly.

In light of that, I’d like to applaud Eli Lilly and Company for establishing the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center. It’s geared specifically to help find individualized solutions for people who need help paying for their Lilly insulin, whether they’re lower income, uninsured or still paying deductibles in a high-deductible insurance plan.

Solutions could include free insulin, significantly discounted medicine or other coverage options to ease the need.

Throughout my legislative career, I have focused on improving our health care system, in part, by making it more accessible, especially to the most vulnerable. I applaud Eli Lilly for helping our community overcome impediments to good health and address our diabetes problem.

Will Davis is the state representative for the 30th District.

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