Majority Press

Maine High School Track Star, Arundel 10-Year Old, Testify Before Senate Aging Panel On Living With Type 1 Diabetes

            WASHINGTON, DC—Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Susan Collins today led a hearing to examine the challenges associated with living and aging with Type 1 diabetes. The hearing was held in conjunction with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) “Children’s Congress.”  This is the eighth Children’s Congress hearing that Senator Collins has chaired during her service in the US Senate.  Several hundred participants, including young delegates from every state in the nation, participated in today’s hearing. Among the key witnesses were Kate Hall, a record-breaking track star from Casco, Maine, and Isabelle Levesque, a ten-year-old from Arundel, Maine. Both Hall and Isabelle have Type 1 diabetes.

            Ms. Hall, who is a recent high school graduate and recently broke a 39-year-old national high school long jump record, discussed the many daily challenges of living with Type 1 diabetes. She said that managing her diabetes must be part of her athletic training, as she has to check her blood sugar levels several times during her training and competitions.  She said that she is determined make sure that diabetes will never stop her from doing the things she loves most.

            Ms. Hall also said that the use of a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) has made a difference in her life and ability to manage the disease. 

            Ms. Levesque said that her diagnosis at age 2 resulted in the beginning of a “very different childhood.” She said that she and her family are devoted to raising awareness of the disease and the importance of more federal funding so that a cure can be found during her lifetime.

            Mark Hurlbert, a 7-year-old from Harrington, Maine, was also a Children’s Congress delegate and participated in today’s hearing.

            Senator Collins, who is also the founder of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, explained that diabetes is a life-long condition that costs our nation an estimated $245 billion a year, while accounting for one out of three Medicare dollars.   “What has really motived me to devote so much energy to this issue, however, is meeting more and more people whose lives have been forever changed by diabetes,” said Senator Collins.

            Since she founded the Diabetes Caucus, funding for diabetes research has tripled from $319 million in 1997 to well over a billion dollars this year. As a result, there have been encouraging medical breakthroughs, but Senator Collins said that more must be done.

            Hearing witnesses discussed the importance of CGMs in their daily lives. Senator Collins said she was troubled to learn that Medicare will not cover CGMs for insulin-dependent beneficiaries.  As a consequence, individuals with Type 1 diabetes who have coverage for CGMs on their private insurance lose it when they age into Medicare.  She has authored legislation to require that Medicare provides coverage for these devices, which can be crucial to help people with Type 1 diabetes control their disease.

Additional witnesses included: Amelia Cooper, a 15-year old from Kansas City, Missouri; Bob Amato of Rhode Island, a former runner and coach,  who has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 67 years; Griffin Rodgers, MD., Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDKK) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; and Habib Zaghouani, PhD,   the J. Lavenia Edwards Chair in Pediatrics, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Neurology and Child Health at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, Missouri.