As one of my last assignment in Political Science, we had to write a letter to an elected official expressing our opinion on something we feel needs to be changed or praising things that have been changed. I chose the first of the two.
The following is a letter I wrote to my Congressman on behalf of my uncle’s fiancée:
December 06, 2010
The Honorable Ted Poe
United States House of Representatives
430 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4302
Dear Representative Poe:
I am writing this letter to raise awareness on Diabetes. Specifically continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) and the lack of support our health care system has given it. I come from a family that is well aware of Diabetes. Both my mother and grandfather are Type II Diabetics. My uncle's fiancée is a Type 1 Diabetic. She is highly susceptible to low blood sugar and tolerant of it as well, which is a dangerous combination. Sometimes, she doesn't know her sugar is low until it is so low she loses consciousness. Because of this she cannot work and is on disability which leads to her receiving Medicaid benefits.
Having been diagnosed at a young age she has learned to deal with the ups and downs that come with the high and low blood sugars. Recently her blood sugar dropped while she was home alone and left her unconscious for a good amount of time before my uncle came home from work. This led to her being in the hospital for twelve days. Soon after she came home, she checked her blood sugar level before lunch and it was normal. When she checked it after lunch, around 12:15 PM, it was in the 200s (normal range is 70-150) so she was given some insulin. Two hours later she was sitting in my living room telling me how she didn't remember any of her hospital stay. She suddenly got quiet and started shaking. I asked if she was okay and she didn't respond. Normally a few sips of juice pulls it back up and she is fine. This time, she was still not responding when we talked to her. After checking her blood sugar we knew why, it had plummeted to a dangerous 20. It took a whole bottle of juice and three glucose tablets to pull her back up into the 50s, which is still dangerous, but made her capable of responding to us.
She wears an insulin pump and that helps her out some, but it is not enough. Her doctor has suggested that she could highly benefit from a CGMS. A CGMS is a device that continuously checks ones blood sugar levels. A sensor is placed right under the skin where the blood sugar is checked every 10 seconds and sends the information to the device. The device then automatically records an average of the readings every five minutes, up to 288 times a day. If levels are too high or too low, users can be alerted and act accordingly. As with most medical equipment, the CGMS comes with a high price tag. The pump itself costs around $6,000 with the remote being around $600. That is just the hardware, however. After the pump and remote, the CGMS disposable sensors are around $50 each and are only worn for three days before being thrown away. Pump supplies run about $200 a month before insulin. Because of the monthly expenses being so high, CGMS are considered "precautionary" and are not covered.
If she were to get a CGMS she could become a productive member of society again. She could get a job and therefore be able to stop receiving disability payments and if she were to find a job that offers their employees health care, she would no longer have a need to receive Medicaid benefits. Although CGMS are costly, the possibility of her losing consciousness could have been eliminated. The pump could have alerted her that her levels were getting low and she could have acted upon it. That in return would have kept her out of the hospital and I am fairly certain that the cost of supplying her with the "precautionary" CGMS is far less than the amount of money spent running tests and keeping her in the hospital for twelve days.
Any positive awareness that could be brought to the situation would only help. A CGMS is not necessary to live, but as "precautionary" as it may seem, the benefits and services it offers to its users can ultimately save their lives. I thank you for your time and hope that with the future changes to our health care system some of them can be positive ones and benefit those who need it.
Now whether or not this will help, I don’t know, but it’s a start. I used to think people were weird for writing letter/emailing politicians. Now I know that if enough people do it, and do it correctly, that change can happen. Nothing changes overnight, but we can start small and work our way up. That’s what we elected the for in the first place, isn’t it?