Alberta to continue funding insulin pumps after public denial


Albertans with type 1 diabetes will continue to have their insulin pumps and supplies funded through a provincial program.

Health Minister Jason Copping announced Thursday that the government will no longer pursue its plan to transfer the costs of the devices to employer benefit plans or Alberta Blue Cross.

Copping said the province has listened to users and stakeholders who have said changes to the insulin pump therapy program could make insulin pumps unaffordable for many users.

« By only looking at this narrow program as opposed to the whole journey and failing to consider not just the cost of providing supports, but the savings associated with providing the supports, we are preventing people from going in the hospital, » Copping said.

« We didn’t look at it from that perspective. »

Copping said the plan will begin shipping new insulin pump models in early September. The government negotiated with manufacturers to supply the pumps and supplies.

The announcement ends months of anxiety for the nearly 4,000 Albertans who relied on the program.

In early May, Copping announced the changes, which were to take effect August 1. The province said the change would save $9 million.

A loud, public outcry from pump users, their families and advocacy groups forced Copping to put the plan on hold 10 days later to allow for greater consultation.

Lesley Thompson, one of the founders of advocacy group Pump4Life, which has made calls and sent hundreds of emails to MPs, said she was happy Copping had reversed the changes.

« It’s unfortunate that we had to do all this advocacy on our behalf because they didn’t consult properly beforehand, » Thompson said.

« But at least they listened after we pleaded and they did the right thing. »

Copping is forming a task force this fall to develop a comprehensive type 1 and type 2 diabetes management plan. He said the group will have one year to come up with recommendations.

NDP health critic David Shepherd said people with diabetes, doctors and advocacy groups should sit on the task force.

“The government chose to rush in with a very ideological, very short-sighted plan, without having listened, and we saw the incredible potential damage that could have done,” he said.



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