I admit, I usually do not watch any of Trump’s press conferences, mostly because they infuriate me. His ignorant comments and incessant drive to berate the press puts a serious damper on my day. However, his recent comments about insulin came across my newsfeed, and I have big feelings about it.
In case you missed it, Trump held a press conference on Tuesday, in which he announced that starting next year, most seniors on Medicare will be able to purchase their insulin for $35 a month or less per month. So far, so good. Current insulin prices are astronomical. As a type 1 diabetic who would literally die without insulin, I am fully supportive of lowering costs. Unfortunately, in this same conference, he says, “I don’t use insulin. Should I be? Huh? I never thought about it. But I know a lot of people are very, very badly affected, right? Unbelievable.” So, the President of the United States, who doesn’t even know what insulin is, has insulin FOMO anyway.
I know. I shouldn’t be surprised. #45 readily admitted to taking hydroxychloroquine, a medicine used to treat malaria, despite no evidence that it prevents the coronavirus. He’s also brainstormed at press conferences, suggesting that perhaps heat, light, or injecting disinfectants might be helpful in battling the coronavirus. We aren’t exactly dealing with a medical expert here.
Later in the conference, after Vice President Pence and Trump praised themselves left and right for all the good the “tremendous” and “transparent” work they’re doing, Surgeon General Adams responded to Trump’s insulin FOMO. He stated, “Your body, Mr. President, actually makes insulin endogenously. And people such as you and I, we make our own insulin. So, yes, we do utilize insulin, but we make it ourselves.”
Trump’s response? “Ah.”
Trump manages, as he always does, to make every conversation about himself: his contributions, his desires, and his terrific administration. He bragged that the prices of insulin will come “tumbling down” for seniors because unlike Obama’s “crippling requirements,” his administration created a “competitive situation” by bringing “insurers, manufacturers, and other key players” to the table.
Newsflash: Diabetes is not a disease exclusive to senior citizens. A person of any age can have a form of diabetes requiring insulin, including infants. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 24 years old. Though I am happy for seniors on Medicaid who will benefit from the lowering cost of insulin, I also know that Trump isn’t lowering insulin prices out of the goodness of his heart. He’s also not doing it because he has a clue what diabetes and insulin even are, obviously. He’s boasting for one reason, which he clearly stated in his conference.
He stated that “this is a big day for seniors. This is a tremendous saving. And it allows people that — you know, if you don’t take insulin — I just wrote this down — go blind, stroke, amputation, kidney failure, and other things.” Then, “I hope seniors are going to remember it, because Biden is the one who put us into the jam because they didn’t know what they were doing. They were incompetent.” Read that again. He wants seniors to “remember it.”
He’s trying to secure senior votes—not only by saving them some cash, but by laying blame on Obama and Biden. A double whammy. Trump cannot help but name-call like a preschooler in a tug-of-war match over a ball on the playground. It’s infuriating that he doesn’t know what insulin is—but he wants it for himself—like the last piece of birthday cake at a child’s party. Oh, and the reason insulin is so expensive is because Biden and Obama are, according to Trump, “incompetent.” Oh, the irony.
The reality is, diabetes sucks. Scary Mommy has reported that some diabetics are driving to Canada, where prices are drastically lower, to purchase cheaper insulin. Insulin costs have risen 1000% (yes, you read that correctly) in the last 20 years, causing many to dangerously be forced to ration insulin.
The reality is, unless I administer insulin 24/7, I will die. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what the price is, because I have to find a way to pay it. No alternative treatments—like shakes, supplements, essential oils, prescription pills, chiropractic care, or a special diet—can cure my autoimmune disease. (And no, malaria drugs, disinfectants, and ultraviolet light won’t work either.)
If the cost of insulin can be lowered for seniors on Medicaid, why can’t it be lowered for all? The CDC reports that one in ten Americans live with diabetes, or 34.2 million people. 5-10% of these are type 1 diabetics like myself. For those of us with diabetes, our medical costs are “more than twice as high as for people without diabetes.”
My insulin alone—which is just one of the many components of my diabetes management—is retailed at $2400 for a ninety-day supply. This doesn’t include my insulin pump and supplies, endocrinology appointments, lab draws, continuous glucose monitor supplies, emergency low blood sugar kit, syringes, alcohol swabs, test strips, lancets, glucose meter, or ketone strips. This also doesn’t include my annual diabetic eye exam or my general healthcare costs, such as a sick visit to my general practitioner or my annual well-woman visit with my gynecologist.
General Adams shared during the press conference, “As far as insulin goes, we know that, again, seven million people actually are dependent on insulin. We know that from a type 1 diabetes standpoint, 1.6 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, and most all of them are dependent on insulin.” But I’m well aware that insulin costs won’t be lowered for all of us. Trump is only going to target “helping” those who he thinks will vote for him in November. The rest of us are disposable—including children (who can’t vote) who live with type 1 diabetes.
Seeing yet another headline about my disease is torture, including all of the COVID-19 diabetic horror stories. But it’s downright pathetic that the leader of the United States questions if he needs to get himself some insulin to try out while millions of us suffer.
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