Ella Baker told us, “Give light, and the people will find a way.”
This Diabetes Awareness Month, we must give light to the state of the insulin crisis and find our way. One in four people with diabetes are forced to ration insulin — too often, fatally — because drug corporations have priced working-class Americans out of being alive.
I am a type-2 diabetic, myself. I know just how taxing diabetes is — mentally, physically, and of course, financially. Those of us who are elected by our communities carry into public office the moral imperative to hold drug corporations accountable for making insulin affordable for those who need it. And, drug corporation executives like Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar are tasked with the moral imperative of prioritizing the value of human life over their paychecks.
The fact of the matter is: The insulin crisis exists because powerbrokers prioritize profit over people’s lives.
The solutions to the insulin crisis are right in front of us — all we have to do is join together and work toward it. There are many paths forward to insulin justice before my fellow members of Congress, and the time to act on these options is now.
One particular path forward is of utmost importance: as my colleagues in Congress already know, Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in America. The problem is that for the last 16 years, Medicare has been intentionally restricted by Congress from negotiating lower drug prices for lifesaving medications — like insulin — on behalf of the American public.
Only Congress can grant Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices for every person we represent. I, and many of my colleagues, stand at the front of the chamber ready to fight for this change.
However, political gridlock between elected officials who want to protect special interests and money in politics and elected officials who are fighting to save their own constituents is killing hard-working Americans. Even worse, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared that any legislation my colleagues in the House bring forth to lower drug prices for the American people will be dead on arrival in the Senate.
To the members of Congress like McConnell who have yet to join me in this fight for survival: time is running out. We cannot afford to drag our feet any longer because every moment we waste doing so is a moment of life stolen from the 30.3 million people in America with diabetes.
Voters turned out in unprecedented numbers during the 2018 midterm elections to defend their right to health care, knowing that election was a fight for our democracy and nation’s well-being. My experience made me who I am: a proud North Carolinian, a lifelong educator, a committed social justice advocate, and a Health Care Voter.
This Diabetes Awareness Month, I raise my torch to give light for the people who need affordable insulin. Now, the end of the insulin crisis is in the hands of Congress: We must find a way for the people we represent.