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Kevin Wren's Public Comments from Universal Health Care Work Group Meeting #5

"A for-profit health system exploits the chronically ill and disabled. 1/4 of those with diabetes report rationing."

My name is Kevin Wren, I am the leader Washington #insulin4all and was diagnosed with diabetes almost 20 years ago. I believe we need universal health care in Washington to make health accessible and affordable for us all. I gave testimony at the recent universal health care workgroup meeting in August supporting the discussions of minimal cost-sharing and the necessity for patients to access affordable care. Below are my comments:

We’ve heard a lot about cost on this call, but not enough about the quality of life benefits, particularly for those with chronic illness, who account for 45% of our population. Diabetics like me are resorting to GoFundMe pages to finance our insulin. We are choosing between insulin or paying for rent and food. We are skipping doses, facing long-term complications, and dying. We need something [offering the greatest access].

A for-profit health system exploits the chronically ill and disabled. 1/4 of those with diabetes report rationing. We have over 600,000 diabetics in WA & 1/3 of our state is at risk of developing it. I am fortunate to be on Apple Care. Because I am in poverty, my insulin costs 0 dollars. Without it, a month of one of my insulins costs over $1000. For those without insurance, life is a nightmare when facing any health emergency or managing a condition.

We need more patient representation at this level when discussing public health priorities such as universal health, representation is especially important for the chronically ill. Black, indigenous, and people of color face greater inequities in health as well as higher rates of chronic illness like diabetes. Accessing health with as few barriers as possible is paramount for us who rely on our health system to live, because without it we suffer and die. Thank you for your work.

When we discuss the future of health, patients have to be at the forefront of these discussions. Chronic illness is a patient-oriented experience, and while we rely on health providers and legislators, our voices need to be heard. I’m grateful for Washington’s foresight in pursuing such an important and meaningful endeavor and thankful for being heard at the discussions affecting everyone. We have the ability to set a higher standard with the support of everyone.

We can’t make universal health care happen for Washington without your support!

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