Friday, April 8, 2011

Dear Government Person - Not Your Secretary!

As most of you know I have Two Type 1 children (out of five) who have had their pancreas hijacked by little evil invaders destroying their beta cells leaving them without insulin.
The little one, diagnosed at 18 months, who is now 6, is using an Insulin Pump to deliver her insulin. The oldest one, is simply too vain at the moment to consider pump therapy.

This post was inspired by a post I read today by Jamie Naessens on Diabetes Mine discussing the Canadian Health Care System. Great post, I recommend you check it out.

It got me thinking about the provincial difference. I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. We moved out here to Alberta 7 years ago. Little did we no that while living out here we would be  challenged with the onset of Type 1 Diabetes for 2 of our children. 

To get to the point, the contrasts between provinces became really apparent when I heard Ontario providing all Children under 18 years of age being subsidized for pumps and supplies. Meanwhile, I am making car pump payments on 2 new Insulin Pumps in the same Country.  I immediately dug my heels in, and wrote a letter to the Provincial Minister of Health.  I honestly doubt he read it. As I received a response from an unknown individual, assigned to respond diplomatically to such emails and letter inquiring about the discrepancies from province to province.

Here is a paragraph from the email response I received:

The Government of Alberta is committed to providing Albertans with access to quality health services. Decisions to publicly fund health services must be supported by evidence regarding their potential health benefits. Alberta Health and Wellness is currently undertaking an assessment of insulin pump therapy. This assessment will provide evidence on safety, efficacy/effectiveness, cost effectiveness and other relevant information of insulin pump therapy compared to multiple daily injections. This assessment will guide our overall approach to insulin pump coverage.

It was a very pleasant letter, it did say that they have a number of income based programs; of course I work and don't qualify for these. I know stop your whining (In case you were thinking that) 

Okay, so they are evaluating the evidence, now what?  The cynical side of me thinks; to look for cheaper methods, so they can not provide pumps in Alberta, which is a huge up-front cost but the best therapy for children in terms of hypoglycemic management, blood glucose control, and oh yes, quality of life. Phew, that was a thought-full!  But seriously hurry it up a little, because having three car payments is killing me. Not to mention not being able to utilize life saving technology for our Type 1 Child who has no hypo awareness.

I have yet to write back.  I am new at this advocacy thing, which is surprising since I have been Type 1 for almost 30's. 

I would like to investigate ways to be heard, political avenues to pursue, how in the heck do I make change in a sparsely populated country for Type 1's?  Basically how do I cut through the "red tape"

But, I am a little busy;  working full time, raising five children, and managing three Type 1's.


PS:  If you are curious, this is the main portion of my letter to the Minister below:

It is perplexing that the richest province in the country has its
citizens paying for essential supplies, new insulin, insulin pumps and
supplies (out of pocket) to prevent complications down the road that
will inevitably save the government money.

The diabetes coverage has improved in other provinces dramatically, what
is the delay in this province?

In any event, I am aware this letter will likely be screened, it is
however my hope to have it forwarded to the Minister of Health.

My main purpose is to advocate for better coverage for type one
diabetes, and those parents and individuals who choose the best
treatment available based on the most current clinical research.

I firmly believe this will save the health system millions of dollars in
the long term.

Kindest regards

Trevor ---------