This morning, the Government of Alberta reversed course on previously announced changes to the Insulin Pump Therapy Program following backlash from Albertans.
In May, the lives of 4,000 Albertans with diabetes and their families were thrown into chaos and uncertainty when the government announced sudden changes to the Insulin Pump Therapy Program. Albertans responded quickly, sending more than twenty thousand letters to their representatives, speaking out against these changes and the destructive impact they would have on their households and communities. Shortly after, the government announced a pause to those changes, and today reversed course completely.
“Today is a big win for Albertans. After weeks of widespread backlash, the government has finally done the right thing and reversed their planned program cut,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “But not only have they reversed the cut, they listened to Albertans living with diabetes, have expanded coverage to include new pumps, and announced a new Diabetes Working Group in a promise to properly consult stakeholders.”
In a press conference today, Health Minister Jason Copping admitted the government had taken a narrow view of what the planned program cut would mean for Albertans, hadn’t consulted the community properly, nor considered the downstream costs to the health care system as a result of taking away people’s coverage for their insulin pumps.
“We were glad to hear the Minister admit that planned cuts to insulin pump coverage were misguided and short-sighted, and that he finally acknowledged the harms it would have caused to both Albertans and our health care system,” said Gallaway. “I hope the Minister will now go back and apply a more upstream lens to other decisions his government has made to cut and privatize our health care, and finally start putting patients before profits.”
The Minister also admitted that the tipping point in changing course was hearing from thousands and thousands of Albertans who shared their experiences, knowledge, and anger at the government’s short-sighted decision to cut the life-saving program.
“Albertans should be proud of the impact they had today. The work of grassroots groups such as Pump 4 Life Alberta, helping to raise awareness and send thousands of messages to the Minister and MLAs, was crucial to the government’s decision to backtrack,” said Gallaway. “Albertans have proved time and again that we’ll always stand up for equitable, universal public health care. Today’s announcement shows that even with this stubborn, ideological government, when Albertans organize and fight back, we win!”
There is still more work to do to improve diabetes care in Alberta. Friends of Medicare will monitor the work of the upcoming Diabetes Working Group to ensure it prioritizes improving diabetes care and access, and is not used as an excuse to provide political cover for cutting or privatizing services in the future.
We encourage Albertans to continue to speak out about cuts and privatization being imposed on our public health care system, and to continue to send emails in support of the Insulin Pump Benefits Program.
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