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(PA) Aging Hearing Examines Patient Access to Life-Saving Insulin

Berks County Resident: Supports to Better Manage Diabetes Can Help People Avoid Paying for High-Cost Medications

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing, “Insulin Access and Affordability: The Rising Cost of Treatment.” During the hearing, Sen. Casey emphasized the need for Congressional action to lower prescription drug prices as well as evidence-based programs that help people manage their diabetes.


There are more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes, including 1.4 million Pennsylvanian adults. In Pennsylvania alone, diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated $13.4 billion a year. That includes the cost of physician visits, hospital care, and prescription medications, such as insulin. Even with advancements in medication and technology, the high cost of insulin can often times put access to treatment financially out of reach for older adults.


“Access to affordable prescriptions, like insulin, is a matter of life and death for many Americans,” said Senator Casey. “It is unconscionable that some people with diabetes can’t afford their medications. We must do more on this front, including investing in community-based programs that educate people on how to manage their illness and live a healthy lifestyle, free from the burdensome expense of medication.” 


Lois Ondik, from Blandon, PA, testified before the committee at the invitation of Sen. Casey. Lois is among the 5th generation in her family to be diagnosed with diabetes and she is all too familiar with the toll the disease takes on a person’s health and finances. Five years after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Lois was struggling to manage her disease. Then, Lois completed a diabetes self-management program through the Berks Encore and her local Area Agency. This evidence-based class that taught her how to use nutrition, exercise and consistent habits to properly manage her blood sugar, which allows her to stay off medication. As Lois stated during her testimony, “I believe it is important for people to have access to supports to prevent or better manage their diabetes and that can help them avoid paying for high-cost medications.”