The Federal Government is one of JDRF’s most important partners in advancing research to better treat, prevent, and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF’s annual Government Day event, held in Washington, D.C., brings together dedicated JDRF Advocates from around the nation to use their own personal stories to communicate the financial, medical, and emotional costs of T1D to our nation’s leaders—and to tell them what they can do to help. Of course, we also carve out time for networking, volunteer recognition, and key updates on research and advocacy priorities.
After several years of conducting meetings virtually because of the pandemic, this year, JDRF advocates held approximately 475 in-person meetings with Senators, Representatives, and their staffs to highlight the issues affecting the T1D community. We’re pleased to share that they arrived in DC filled with purpose, and departed after making a huge impact on Capitol Hill.
This year, JDRF advocates enlisted Congressional engagement in the following priorities:
Renewing the Special Diabetes Program
The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) is a critical Federal program that provides $150 million annually for T1D research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This program has been instrumental in nearly all the recent T1D advances, including work towards cures and improvements in therapies.
However, this funding expires September 30, 2023 so we are working to renew the program to continue making progress in these and other areas such as environmental triggers, immune therapies, glucose control, and T1D-related complications. Learn more here.
Achieving Insulin Affordability
Our foundational belief is that everyone should have access to the insulin they need to survive. Together, JDRF staff and volunteers have been raising our voices on this issue for years, engaging with Congress, health plans, manufacturers, etc., and we’ve seen recent progress—including manufacturers lowering insulin prices and the $35 insulin co-pay cap for people on Medicare included in the Inflation Reduction Act last year. These are steps in the right direction made possible because of your advocacy—but there is more to do. We are calling on Congress to extend the co-pay cap to all Americans and to enact systemic reforms so insulin is more affordable for all who need it. Learn more here.
Mary Tyler Moore Award
JDRF also recognized three distinguished female Congressional leaders who have been instrumental in the fight against T1D during JDRF’s annual Government Day. The inaugural Mary Tyler Moore Award was presented to U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, and U.S. Representative Diane DeGette (D-CO), co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. JDRF recognized these influential leaders for their longstanding support of the T1D community, in honor of Mary Tyler Moore, a television pioneer, and advocate who served as JDRF’s international chair for more than 30 years and helped to increase Congressional funding for research advancements through the NIH and the SDP.
We are proud of the work that JDRF advocacy volunteers are doing both locally and nationally, and we are grateful for our legislative partners who are pushing for progress in Congress and beyond. Together, we are building a future without T1D.
There’s a lot of work left to be done—and we need your help! If you’re not already, please sign up to a JDRF advocate to help secure Federal funding for important diabetes research, inform health and regulatory policy, and improve the quality of life for those affected by T1D until we find cures.