Carol Howe, Paula R. and Ronald C. Parker Endowed Professor in the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences, appeared in Austin this month to advocate for Texas Senate Bill 827. Authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst ’88, the bill would result in a $50-a-month cap on copayments for insulin. The bill passed through the Senate 27-3 and is being carried to the House by Rep. Eddie Lucio III.
“SB827 right now helps families and immediately helps them be able to manage their diabetes,” testified Howe. “As diabetes educators, our goal is to educate families, to teach them how to manage their diabetes, and our biggest tool in the toolshed really is their insulin and their insulin dosing.”
Howe said she was in Austin representing the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists. She is the Texas advocacy leader for the Texas Coordinating Body.
Howe shared several stories of patients she knows who have gone without insulin due to costs. One included a female whose health was declining. The woman admitted to sharing her insulin with her uncle. Although they were both insured, she said the cost of insulin was prohibitive.
A male, Type 1 diabetes patient had a different circumstance. He was taking a modern insulin that allowed him to fine tune his insulin to meet his blood sugar needs but requested to revert to an older, less sophisticated drug to reduce costs. Howe said it did not grant the same control, which is vital.
“There is a direct correlation – a straight line – between diabetes control and complications: blindness, amputations, kidney dialysis,” she explained. “We also know from a study by the American Diabetes Association that the great costs of diabetes are usually related to complications, both due to hospitalizations as well as medications and care to manage complications.”
The success of the bill is critical, Howe explained, because, for Texans on a state-regulated health plan, it immediately increases accessibility to insulin.