Local woman launches petition for government-funded insulin pumps

Amy MacKenzie
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Tammy MacLaren looks at a folder full of stories people have written in the comment section of the online petition she launched to convince the Nova Scotia government to publicly fund insulin pumps for children. The stories people write on the site are of parents who can’t afford to buy pumps for their children and teachers who have witnessed how insulin pumps improve children’s lives. AMY MACKENZIE – THE NEWS

NEW GLASGOW – A Pictou County woman has decided to push the provincial government to publicly fund insulin pumps for Nova Scotian children.

Tammy MacLaren’s children go to school with 10-year-old Madison Moulton, who was able to purchase a new insulin pump because the community fundraised more than $7,500 to cover the costs. The pump means the young girl can live her life free of multiple daily needle injection of needles and allows more flexibility in terms of what she eats and activity levels as a pump can change the amount of insulin quickly at the touch of a button.

Moulton’s medical insurance doesn’t cover purchase of a pump because she was diagnosed with diabetes at an early age. She is one of many children in the province whose parents must pay out of their own pocket for the expense.

“I was just shocked that there wasn’t some sort of funding that the government provides. Then, I kind of got mad,” MacLaren said. “I was like, ‘well, why isn’t there?’ Then I started doing some research on my own and found that other provinces are funding insulin pumps in some form.”

On Thursday, MacLaren launched an online petition in an aim to convince the Nova Scotia government to fund insulin pumps for children and youth under 18. By Tuesday, she had about 1,200 supporters.

Dayle Crouse, Moulton’s mother, said an insulin pump dramatically helps improve the lives of children and youth living with diabetes.

“An insulin pump really makes their life more flexible. It’s not rigid. If they want to go and spend a night at a friend’s house, or if there is a birthday party, they can have the cake or slice of pizza or they can sleep in on the weekend,” she told The News in November. “I know she’s only 10, but she’ getting close to being a preteen and their activities are so varied. Their parents aren’t always with them so it allows them to be really flexible.”

Lisa Matte, Canadian Diabetes Association regional director for the Maritimes, said Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are the only two provinces that do not provide any funding for insulin pumps.  

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s website says the pumps costs approximately $7,000, they need to be replaced every four to five years and supplies costs about $3,000 a year.

“That’s a lot of money on top of the supplies. Some people can afford to buy that for their kids, but a lot of people can’t,” MacLaren said. “They’re struggling just to keep their homes and feed their kids.”

Matte said she’s seen other governments decide to fund insulin pumps because of letter-writing campaigns from citizens to provincial politicians combined with lobbying by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

“In this province, I haven’t seen an actual petition organized before so it’s really an interesting approach,” she said of MacLaren’s campaign.

Matte said the Canadian Diabetes Association has been lobbying the Nova Scotia government for about six years now to fund insulin pumps for children and youth. They have been meeting with officials and released a report on how Nova Scotia’s health care system could save money in the long term by investing in an insulin pump coverage program.

Minister of Health and Wellness David Wilson said in an interview that the government is looking into the costs and benefits of such a program.

“While we don’t have an immediate plan to fund insulin pumps, we are actively gathering the best information to help us assess the costs and benefits of an insulin program that would cover insulin pumps here in Nova Scotia,” he said. “No question, the finance of the province plays an important role on what new services we can provide Nova Scotians. That’s why it’s so important for us to get back to balance and ensure that we have our finances in order so we can continue in the future to improve services, like adding new services like insulin pumps for children in the province.”

MacLaren said she believes everyone of every age should have free access to insulin pumps, but trends in other provinces that successfully implemented such a program show it’s easiest to start with covering those under 18 and then gradually include adults in the program if it’s successful. She said the online petition is just a simple petition allowing supporters to sign electronically and an email is sent to the province’s MLAs. To support MacLaren’s petition, go to:  HYPERLINK "https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/nova-scotia-legislature-fund-insulin-pumps-for-children" https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/nova-scotia-legislature-fund-insulin-pumps-for-children

Organizations: Canadian Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, En-CA

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, NEW GLASGOW, Pictou County Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Vera Archibald
    February 08, 2013 - 07:43

    I totally agree! My husband has been insulin dependent for over 60 years (since 1952). He is one of the lucky ones...with no major complications, but suffered many ups and downs until he got an insulin pump about seven years ago. The control issue is much more manageable and would make a tremendous difference if newly diagnosed diabetics had access to a pump earlier in their journey with diabetes. Vera Archibald, New Glasgow

  • Cheryl Teed
    February 01, 2013 - 17:28

    no comments but I totally agree other provinces do it Nova Scotia ...get on board

  • ALS
    January 30, 2013 - 12:23

    I am a Type One Diabetic Adult, I have been on an insulin pump for 13 years. Just last year, my first pump's motor died and I was left with the burden of choosing to purchase a new pump out of pocket or going on injections. I tried injections and my body did not respond well to the long-acting insulin leaving my blood sugars out of range for weeks. It was up to me to decide if I wanted to live a shorter less-healthy life or nearly bankrupt myself and purchase a new pump. I work a full-time job, I have student loans and bills like everyone else my age but to add medical bills like this on top of it seems crazy. When I approached our government about the issue in April I was told by (then) Minister of Health Maureen MacDonald that the government was investing in things like Kidney Dialysis for diabetic patients. Wake up, Nova Scotia NDP. Reactive health care is a thing of the past. Being proactive and investing in the health and well being of residents will save money in the long run. So make sure that when you do get these children on pumps you intend to help them stay in the province like user KCSM says. I am very close to leaving everything I have built for myself in this province so I can be assured to be provided adequate health care.

  • KCSM
    January 30, 2013 - 10:16

    It is time for Nova Scotia to step up and recognize that the solution to the province's economic issues can be found in ensuring that young adults choose to stay and work in this province. As an educated young person who moved away and now gets my insulin pump and supplies covered by my provincial government, I would have a hard time moving back to Nova Scotia. If I were to do so there is a very good chance I would have to give up my insulin pump all together or would at least have to contribute a much greater amount of my income to covering the costs of insulin pump therapy. While I would love the opportunity to return to Nova Scotia, what I would be giving up is worth much more to me than anything I might gain. I am certain I am not the only person in this situation. Nova Scotians suffering from type 1 diabetes shouldn't have to wait any longer. Please sign Ms. MacLaren's petition or contact your MLA to voice your support.

  • Johnny smoke
    January 30, 2013 - 08:04

    94:01.00 DEVICES (DIABETIC) INSULIN PUMP SUPPLIES Device 99401049 ADAPTOR AUC 99401052 ADHESIVE PAD WITH AUC 99401053 ADHESIVE PAD WITHOUT COTTON AUC 99401050 INFUSION SETS AUC 99401038 INSULIN PUMP BATTERY AUC 99401047 INSULIN PUMP CARTRIDGES AUC 99401048 PISTON ROD AUC 09991061 RESERVOIR 5XX 1.8ML SYRINGE MDT 09991062 RESERVOIR 7XX 3.0ML SYRINGE MDT 99401051 TUBING AUC ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL The following was taken from the federal government web site which contained insured services and devices for First Nations and Intuit people. If such can be provided for one segment of the population, surely the taxpaying public who pays for both of these groups can and should expect equal coverage. Just contacting our elected representatives is not enough, we must demand equal treatment, anything less is unacceptable. Just one less trip to India for the Prime Ministers armored limo would more than cover the cost of these life and limb saving devices.

    • Tricia Ferguson
      January 30, 2013 - 18:49

      I am a resident of Ontario and my son's pump and pump supplies in the amount of $2400 annually is covered by the assitive devices program. He had to meet the criteria as set out by the ministry or health, in order to qualify for the program and insure that we as parents were responibly monitoring his diabetes. At 14 months of age diabetes took away our happy go lucky sweet little boy. With the help of the insulin pump, at age three we got our son back. He recieved flexibility in meals, a sense of normalcy with his peers, and much tighter control of his blood sugar and better general health. Also his long term health will benefit, and in many ways save tax payers money by not having to deal with the negative effectsd of long term diabetes. As a Canadain citizen, I think every child and eventually adults, dealing with type one diabetes should be given access to the insulin pump.