Government Funding for Type 1 Children
I’ve been asked what the Administration’s budget proposals mean for diabetes funding, and what they mean for kids with type 1. While I am no budget expert, I do have a few opinions on government funding of diabetes programs. But first, a disclaimer: before becoming your fearless blogger, I was a White House speechwriter for George H,W. Bush (or #41, as we call him) and so I am a limited-government conservative. But I’m also a parent of a child with diabetes, as you know.
The numbers: According to the American Diabetes Association, NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases would receive $11 million less than last year, and chronic disease prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control would be funded at $20 million less than last year (but still receive $819 million.) The American Diabetes Association is very upset at these cuts, which it says will reduce funding for NIH research into better treatments and prevention programs.
There are now 20.8 million Americans with diabetes, and the cost to the economy is over $130 billion a year. We all know diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. Of course we want all people living with diabetes to have better treatment, and we don’t want any more people getting diabetes of any kind. So none of us wants the budget to be cut at all.
But if you’re going to cut it – and let’s face it, we are a nation at war -- I’d cut where the administration cut: prevention and education efforts, and improving treatment. That’s because there are other organizations out there which can step in and fill the void. Prevention and education are primarily the purview of organizations like the ADA, schools, local clinics, state health departments, even families. Nobody I know who is at risk of getting type 2 diabetes has even thought to go to the federal government for help – they go to their doctor or look for help and information on websites like this one. As far as improving treatment goes, why not rely on the ingenuity of the drug and medical device companies who have a vested (financial) interest in improving technology? The insulin pump, continuous read blood glucose monitors and even ketone sticks did not come to us from the federal government. They came from private companies.
So the federal funding of both of those strikes me as the fat in the diabetes budget.
Let’s look at what they didn’t cut: research into a cure. This is where the federal government can make a difference, and where not a dime of the funding is fat. NIH has increased its investment in type 1 research to unprecedented levels over the last few years, because the government knows what a unique role it can play in funding cutting-edge research. That’s good news for kids with type 1.
Published On: February 10, 2006