On April 12, 2012, Premier Alison Redford promised Albertans that if re-elected, her government would ensure that all Albertans who suffer from type 1 diabetes would receive cost-free access to insulin pumps to help them better manage their condition and improve their quality of life. She has still not delivered.
"Albertans affected by Type 1 diabetes were encouraged by the government's recognition of their health and financial struggles when this promise was made," said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. "We have heard from many Albertans who simply cannot afford these pumps even though they were being recommended by their physicians. These pumps and supplies are very expensive. The annual cost to an Albertan suffering from type 1 diabetes is between $7,000 and $10,000."
In October 2012, six months after the provincial election, the government announced that they would be putting "a stringent eligibility criteria" in place and said the program would cost around $10 million for the first year. In January 2013, Health Minister Horne announced that the government had set aside $18 million in 2013 to fund the first free pumps. He indicated that between $8.5 million and $9.4 million would be allocated for each of the next three years, with $20.5 million in the fifth year as the devices require replacing. According to Horne, about 1,600 people with Type 1 diabetes would likely be eligible.
"Albertans with type 1 diabetes currently face financial hardships every month for their medically-necessary treatments," said Azocar. "We are concerned that they will not receive the support that the Premier promised them in the last election. Type 1 diabetes is not a preventable illness. It is not caused by eating too much sugar or having an unhealthy lifestyle; a person is born with it. Those Albertans who had put their faith in this government to meet their medical needs have been left hanging."
When the provincial budget was announced in March 2013, it contained only $5 million for the insulin pump promise and estimated that it would only help 300 people.
"A significant number of Albertans cannot afford the diabetic supplies required to maintain their health. The government promised them relief but has so far failed to follow through. How can the Premier expect Albertans to trust her when this government makes up rules as they go?" indicates Azocar.
Friends of Medicare is demanding that the Premier direct AHS and the Minister of Health to immediately implement her promise to fund insulin pumps and supplies for Albertans with type 1 diabetes.
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director
Friends of Medicare