My son was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Shortly after he had taken his first steps, I learned that his pancreas did not produce insulin – a chemical he needs to survive – on its own. The good news is that with the right medication, my son could go on to live a healthy and normal life – as long as he could afford it.

L.D. 673, one of the five bills in the Making Health Care Work for Maine package, would ensure that insulin is available to Mainers in an emergency situation at a maximum cost of $35. Celeste Jenkins/Shutterstock.com

In order to survive, he relies on Humalog insulin. One vial of Humalog costs more than $350. Though we are able to afford it through his health care plan, I live in constant fear of what we would do if he were to lose health care coverage. It’s why I joined worried Maine parents in asking lawmakers to pass the Making Health Care Work for Maine package at the recent public hearing.

Like most Mainers, I am all too familiar with the high price of prescription drugs. As a mother, sister, daughter and health care worker, I’ve watched the price of lifesaving medication move further and further out of reach, putting the health of the people I love and care about at risk. Something has to change. With these five bills, I’m hopeful that Mainers can finally get some relief.

You see, the struggle to afford insulin isn’t new to me. Growing up with a brother living with Type 1 diabetes, I watched my mother and father do everything they could to make ends meet and cover my brother’s insulin cost. This sometimes meant cutting corners on groceries or making decisions to ensure our family could scrape by.

Things have only gotten more difficult for my brother as an adult. He’s had to change what kind of insulin he takes based on price and has even resorted to rationing vials of insulin when he is in a pinch. No one should have to live like this or make choices like this.

This is not the life I want for my son. No mother should have to worry if the life of her bright, loving and curious child will be cut short because the price of their medication spikes overnight or they simply can’t afford it one month.

The Making Health Care Work for Maine package would create an emergency insulin program and save lives. L.D. 673 would ensure that insulin is available to Mainers in an emergency situation at a maximum cost of $35. As a mother, it would ensure that my worst fears are never realized.

But this bill is only part of the package. The remaining proposals – L.D. 120, L.D. 1117, L.D. 686 and L.D. 675 – crack down on price gouging, hold drug companies accountable and make prescription drugs more affordable for Mainers like my family.

Two years ago, my father became seriously ill. The doctors told us he needed dialysis and numerous medications in order to survive. When my dad ultimately made the decision to not seek these treatments, I knew part of his reason was that he did not want the family to have one more medical cost to think about. I knew he was thinking of my brother’s insulin and my mom’s limited income. I hate to think about the possibility that my father felt like a burden at the end of his life – all because of our constant stress over prescription costs and medical bills.

I wish my family’s story was unique, but it’s far from it. For years, I worked as a home health care worker. Every week, I saw other families face the same familiar pain and struggle as the cost of health care and prescription drugs continued to climb. Instead of taking comfort in their retirement, my clients were in a constant state of worry over their next visit to the pharmacy counter.

It’s time for things to change, and it starts with passing the Making Health Care Work for Maine package.


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