The Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition welcomes Hannah McDaniel as our newest employee. As a DPAC Associate, she’ll help explain the policy issues impacting our community and share ways to raise our patient voices. Hannah is currently studying at Duke University. 


Hannah McDanielHi. I am your average, twenty-something college student: idealistic, starry-eyed, and with my whole life in front of me. Type 1 diabetes has presented speed bumps in my life since my diagnosis 8 years ago, but I am thriving and empowered. However, as a patient with diabetes in the face of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), I fear policy decisions will limit my ability to live a healthy life because they cut off access to medications, devices, and services I need.

As a young person, I am still feeling out the highs and lows of working through challenges related to both diabetes and healthcare. It’s still relatively new to me. What isn’t new is the passion I feel about fighting against anything that would make life more difficult for patients. Because of those feelings, it’s incredibly important I advocate for people with diabetes like me and for anybody affected by changes in healthcare legislation.

It is vital that all people with diabetes find their voices in the political system, empowering themselves and others affected by pre-existing conditions.

Empowering who? Why us though?

Millennials, Generation X and Boomers words on a speedometer to illustrate the different demographics and ages of generational groupsNo matter what age, we all acutely understand what it’s like to be patients in a healthcare system that makes decisions considering everything but the patients’ perspectives. For my generation, I feel we need to raise our voices just as loud (if not louder!).

We are the future of this country and we must set the precedent for what advocacy looks like for generations of vibrant, healthy difference-makers to come – those living with diabetes or pre-existing conditions who want to thrive. We must prove to ourselves and them that our drive can make us incendiary for the community of patients affected by healthcare legislation.

In our unique position as young people within this community, we are empathetic to the uncertainty surrounding healthcare legislation for anybody with or affected by pre-existing conditions. We know that policy-makers or insurance companies often don’t attempt to understand our needs; our needs will not be met or even heard if we do not collectively stand up to vocalize them.

What’s different about my generation?

We must join this larger community of advocates, and interject our voices among those who have advocated before. Why? Because we are different. We are not made different by our diabetes or pre-existing conditions, but rather by the ways our newer stories empower us and beg to be told. We are the most qualified voices to speak our own stories into the minds of policy-makers. They must think of us along with the rest of the diabetes community so that they think of all of us as they vote on our medical access, daily lives, and futures.

It scares me to think of denied access to the medicines and services we need under the BCRA. If the BCRA passes, it jeopardizes our quality of life, cutting off coverage under certain plans regarding access to vital diabetes education and services, such as Certified Diabetes Educators. It scares me that under some plans if an insurance payment is missed, we may have no insurance coverage for the six months after. Managing type 1 diabetes costs about $7,900 a year (and that’s without complications or comorbitites; paying half of that out of pocket under the BCRA would be crippling for all generations, including mine.

The policymakers and representatives we need to reach are often blind to the personal ways a single vote changes the lives of 29 million diabetic families across the nation. In this way, they do not represent us.

There’s an easy solution: act, speak, and be heard. We must stop being passive about political advocacy. The clock is ticking today.

Okay, so I do have a voice. What now?

Before hearing about the DPAC mobile app and website, I thought advocacy was something other, more qualified people did on my behalf.

I now know that if I don’t speak for myself and others like me, very few will.

All these new advances in the diabetes world are incredible, but if we can’t access them, do we gain anything? The BCRA forces us to step back in time to having fewer tools than ever available to help us thrive with diabetes.

Now that I can advocate through DPAC, I have emailed and called my senators, signed up for local advocacy, and followed DPAC on social media. The articles DPAC shares on the mobile app updates and educates me on issues relevant to people with diabetes in the safety, quality, and access realms.

I now know what issues to advocate for, and their effect on the patient community. I can feel my voice amplified with each response from my representative or shared post through DPAC. I make a difference.

DPAC is easy, clear advocacy with a tangible response. DPAC speaks for me as a patient, empowering me to find my voice.

 

Download the DPAC app and follow DPAC on Facebook and Twitter to begin speaking up for the diabetes patient community.

No matter what generation you are, you are more than qualified to advocate.