Which Liberal Government?

which liberal government...Diabetes Advocacy

This summer I saw a number of variations of this status posted all over Facebook… “I would like to highlight the Liberal government removing the subsidy for blood test strips. Diabetics need very frequent blood testing, up to 5+ times a day. The cost of strips is $70.00 – outcome – reduced blood glucose testing and more hospital admissions from hyper or hypoglycemic episodes. Diabetes . . . I am asking if everyone could put this as their status for 1 hour. I’m pretty sure I know the ones that will. Think of someone you know or love who has or has had diabetes. My hope is that in 2016 a cure will be found. Will you post it for 1 hour? To honor those who have fought or are fighting diabetes.? “

Many people were sharing this status.  Many more were asking…where is this from? Whose government is doing this? The answers were surprising.

How many Liberal Governments were cutting funding?

I was certain that it was Newfoundland.  In the spring the new Liberal government had announced changes to the provincial prescription drug plan.  They were limiting the number of test strips to 2500 annually for those using MDI, 700 for those using just a long-acting insulin, 100 for those not using insulin and 50 for those who have only recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.*

As this post continued to make its rounds, however, I was shocked to see that a number of other locations were also claiming that this was a reality in their home area. People from as far away as Australia were saying that this had happened to them.  They said it was their government that the post was directed at.  All I could think was, “this is crazy!”

The high cost of tight control

For years, study after study has shown how important tight control and home blood glucose monitoring is.  They have shown that good control equates to improved health outcomes AND immediate financial benefit in terms of reduced loss of work. Why would governments think that they were saving money by cutting access to blood glucose testing strips?

This entire scenario hits too close to home as my son turns 19. He will soon be in a position of losing his health care coverage.  His days of being covered by his father’s private health care plan are numbered. 

My stomach aches each time I think of this safety net being taken away. He does have some coverage from the province.  We will find a way but what about other children?

I don’t mean small children, I mean adults who are struggling to find their way.  What about them? What about their families? How do they cope? How do you work a minimum wage job, pay your rent, buy your groceries AND cover your diabetes care costs?

Again, we know how important blood glucose checking is. As parents, we have spent years asking our children “Did you check your blood?” and “What was your blood glucose reading?”  How do they answer those questions when they can’t afford the test strips? How accurate will their guess have to be?

Why blood glucose testing is important

Without proper blood glucose checking, they cannot accurately dose their insulin. They cannot make exact judgment calls on corrections.  They will run a high risk of complications.  They most likely will have more sick days.  This will cost governments more money in lost tax revenue and create an increased drain on hospital services.

If a person with diabetes is unable to check their blood and stop potentially dangerous high blood glucose levels on their own, they will be forced to seek hospital treatments.  A 2008 report in the Toronto Star suggests that one typical hospital stay then cost approximately $7000**.

$7000…you can get 100 strips for $80-$100.  If you test 8-10 times per day that one hospital stay would still cost more than 2 years worth of test strips. Two years. 

It would appear that the people in charge of making these policy changes need to better understand what they have done.  Basic math shows the folly in such policies. We can only hope that public pressure and common sense will ultimately prevail.  Our loved ones with diabetes need access to the proper medical supplies to ensure that they can continue to be healthy, productive members of our societies.

*http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2016-04-17/article-4500650/Changes-coming-to-provincial-drug-program/1

**https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2008/03/18/average_hospital_stay_costs_nearly_7000_study.html

Test Strips Really Do Reproduce!

Test Strip Graveyard

The other day I was sweeping the floors and made a discovery that shocked me. There had been one test strip laying on the floor outside of our downstairs bathroom. I have swept around it for weeks. My son left in January and diabetes trash has served to be small reminders of him.

Yes, this shows a small bit of my psychosis. I am an empty-nester who still has issues. I read about it online the other day. It basically said I was crazy and trash is trash but I am not alone in my insanity. I still have part of a cartridge sitting in my car because…well its something my youngest son used. Under normal circumstances, it would have long been thrown away and I would have yelled at him for leaving his junk in my car.  He moved away and suddenly this stuff is a treasured possession. Yes, I definitely have issues.

I have not left his room as a shrine (another thing noted in this article on empty nest syndrome). He actually complained the last time he was here because the bed in his room now has a shiny duvet cover that he did not feel was manly. His brother’s bed covering is much more neutral.  I talk to both of my sons on a regular basis.  They are still a big part of my life but still  I do smile now when I come across a test strip…until the other day. On that day I got a little creeped out!

As I have admitted, I will sweep around one test strip. I will leave a dead soldier on the floor of his room and smile as I walk by it to feed the fish.  I am not a hoarder nor am I into dirt and garbage piling up.  Subtle reminders in places that ideally only I see are fine but let’s not go overboard (see no white jackets required at the moment!).  The other day, as I moved my Swifter throughout the small bit of floor space on our lower level, I was surprised to see that the one test strip that I had been watching now had a friend. There were two test strips that had somehow found their way out of a garbage can and onto our floor. This was not good. I put them in a spot together and knew that they would have to be returned to the trash that day.

I continued to clean and tidy but was again surprised to find test strip number three! Okay, I have admitted to not picking up ONE test strip but honestly I do not keep a bunch garbage around “just because” it reminds me of one child.  There is a limit even for me so how did I end up with three used test strips on my downstairs floor? I have not had anyone in the house testing their blood in over six weeks. I honestly clean my house and my floors on a regular basis. There is no way for me to now have THREE test strips in one small area.

There was only one reasonable answer.  Test strips, like dust bunnies really do reproduce! If only we could get the unused ones to do this, a lot of people would be able to test a lot more for a lot less money!

The test strips have all been moved to the garbage can.  The question remains however…will they really stay there this time?