THERE ARE VERY FEW state laws that would unambiguously benefit every district, every socioeconomic class, every political party, and every demographic. There are even fewer that could do so while costing nothing, and even saving money, and lives. Here in Massachusetts, we have a chance to pass one of these laws.
An Act Relative to Emergency Insulin Access, if passed, would empower pharmacists to provide a limited supply of lifesaving insulin in emergency situations. These bills, already implemented in 18 states, red and blue alike, could potentially save lives, including my own.
My name is Charlotte. I am a rising high school senior, I am 17 years old, and I have Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic illness that prevents my pancreas from producing insulin. I need insulin to keep myself alive. I will never not need insulin. Type 1 is not caused by diet or lack of exercise, and cannot be controlled by lifestyle. There is no cure.
I am a varsity softball player, a goalie for my soccer team, and I regularly hike and stay active, but without insulin, I would die, likely within weeks, or even days. Type 1 Diabetes has existed for all of recorded history. Until the invention of injectable insulin in 1921, the disease was 100 percent fatal.
Trying to navigate the healthcare system as a diabetic is complicated. Pharmacies can’t give me any insulin without an active prescription from my doctor, but there can be miscommunications between doctors, pharmacies, and insurance companies. A few months ago, I almost found myself without insulin over Christmas break because my family hadn’t realized my prescription had expired. The issue took days to resolve. I was afraid I would end up in the hospital, or worse. Prescriptions can expire, but diabetes doesn’t.
Tragedies have happened before. The proposed law, shorthanded “Kevin’s Law,” is named after Kevin Houdeshell, a 36-year-old man from Ohio, who died over the winter holidays in 2014, after being denied the insulin he needed to stay alive.
Kevin was a beloved son, brother, and uncle. He was also, like me, a Type 1 diabetic. Over the New Year’s holiday, he ran out of prescription refills, just like I did, and he was unable to reach his doctor for a new prescription. A few days later, he was dead. Since his death, Kevin’s family has advocated for emergency insulin to be available directly through pharmacies, so that no one else has to suffer such an easily preventable death.
Variations of the law exist in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Massachusetts should be next.
The bill was introduced in the House by representatives Hannah Kane and Jack Lewis, and in the Senate by Adam Gomez. Support is bipartisan, and the law would even save money by keeping people out of the emergency room. Twenty-one representatives and four senators have signed on, but in order to become law, these bills desperately need more momentum.
So what can you do?
Raise awareness: email your local legislators, or better yet, call their offices directly, and ask them to cosponsor An Act Relative to Emergency Insulin Access, and make sure it gets passed. As of writing this, I have personally called and/or emailed nearly every member of the Massachusetts Legislature, and I have yet to hear a single reason not to pass this law. There are tens of thousands of Type 1 diabetics across Massachusetts. There are diabetics in every town, every district, and every political party. If you work in state government, please fight for this law. You could save a life.