The Republican formula, in three easy steps.

**Author’s note: I do not have a political affiliation. Over the course of nearly 37 years, I have voted for Democrats and Republicans, and others too. I am fiercely independent politically, and I plan to stay that way for the rest of my days.

January has never seemed colder.

On inauguration day, the United States Congress and the incoming President will set in motion the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Despite what some who support the incoming president believe, this is also known as Obamacare. Republicans in Congress and the republican President are taking away the established right to health care for 350 million American citizens.

That’s right… this is about more than the 29 million people living with diabetes, or the 14.5 million cancer survivors, or the 30 to 50 percent of men over 40 living with erectile dysfunction in the USA.

They’re taking away the right to care, treatment, and drugs for every single one of us, whether we’re currently living with a disease, condition, illness, or nothing at all. We will once again be on our own.

They’re doing this for a number of reasons, but mostly, because they want to take away my right to health care, and because they can. They can because they have a majority in the House of Representatives, and through the budget reconciliation process, they only need 50 votes in the Senate to repeal the law.

And that replacement that everyone kept harping on under the guise of “repeal and replace”? The idea was never to “repeal and replace immediately”, or to “repeal and replace with something better”. There’s a formula in place here, and this is what it looks like:

1. Repeal as soon as possible. Republicans can pretty much check that off their list.

2. Draft a replacement. Any replacement. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter that it’s not better (ACA is not perfect by any stretch, but the ideas being bandied about by congressional Republicans are sinister). It can be written on the back of a cocktail napkin for all they care. They just need to draft a replacement, and introduce it at the last minute before the vote. Here’s why… listen closely:

3. Vote on the replacement. This vote would pass the House easily, with a simple majority. But in the Senate, the replacement would require 60 votes. The Republicans don’t have 60 seats in the Senate, so that’s never going to happen. Here’s the entire point I’m making– pay attention: When Democrats won’t vote for the “replacement”, Republicans will have everything they need to then go to their press conferences and Meet the Press and Face the Nation and say, “we have a replacement like we promised, but Democrats won’t vote for it, so Democrats are holding up health care for everyone”.

I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that’s how the Republican formula will work. They’ve been wanting to repeal this law for over six years now. Do you think they wouldn’t have a plan in place to try to make themselves look benevolent while making their opposition look opportunistic? There’s only one little thing though…

Republicans are taking away the right to health care for 350 million Americans. That right already existed. It was already tested in the courts. It was already the law of the land. There was no need to repeal it without replacing it with something better, or without rewriting the existing law. Republicans own that. For their part, Democrats are even willing to discuss changes to make Obamacare better, as long as all Americans retain their right to coverage in the process.

But, for whatever reason, Republicans aren’t interested in that. They, and the incoming president, would rather see all Americans without a right to health care than see Americans spend one more day with guaranteed coverage under ACA.

Well, that’s how I see things shaping up over the next few weeks. I hope I’m wrong. I hope the final outcome will be better than anyone had imagined. Right now, I’m still coming to grips with the idea that Republican lawmakers hate us, all of us, all 350 million of us, and are working as we speak to take away our right to heath care forever, guaranteeing that in the aftermath of their plan, some Americans will, in fact, die.

In that respect, Republicans are right… on the streets of D.C., life is cheap. They’re on their way to guaranteeing it.

Diabetes By The Numbers (Part 2): Christel Marchand Aprigliano on insulin pricing.

Welcome back to Diabetes By The Numbers.

Today, I feature the second part of my conversation with Christel Marchand Aprigliano.  In this episode, we talk about one of the hot button issues of the day– insulin pricing.

We cover a recent meeting between insulin makers and diabetes advocates, and developments on pricing announced by two of those insulin makers since that meeting took place in November of 2016.
DBTN

Reference Material – Click below for more information on this topic

Christel Marchand Aprigliano writes about diabetes at:
ThePerfectD.com

You can connect with Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, or DPAC, at:
DiabetesPAC.org

Diabetes By The Numbers (Part 1): Christel Marchand Aprigliano talks about the Diabetes UnConference.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally share a conversation with Christel Marchand Aprigliano. In three parts.

Christel, as I mention in the introduction, is a force in the diabetes world. Until there isn’t a diabetes world any longer, we can only hope to have advocates like her who get in the trenches and fight for the things that are important to those of us living with this disease.

In part two of our conversation, you’ll hear about one of the hot topics of the day, insulin pricing, where roles are slightly reversed, and I’m the feisty one. Part three will cover Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, and how using the easy button can help you get your diabetes advocacy started, and up your diabetes advocacy, all in less than two minutes. Those episodes are still to come, and you’re not going to want to miss them.

Today, we talk about the unique gathering known as the Diabetes UnConference. Christel covers all the things that make the UnConference life-affirming. We discuss the No Social Media policy that exists during the sessions on Saturday and Sunday, and why that is so important to attendees. And Christel admits that her intentions in creating the UnConference were not entirely altruistic (her words, not mine). She needs it just as much as the rest of us.

If you’re in a place in your walk with diabetes where you could use some space to vent, or learn, share, and meet new friends, whether diabetes has been in your life for days, weeks, months, or years, this is the podcast episode you’ve been waiting to hear.

Full disclosure: I will be a facilitator at the Diabetes UnConference in both locations this year. I am not compensated in any way for this interview, except in the good vibes that come with going one on one with a person whom you admire and trust and learn from at every turn.

DBTN

Reference Material – Click below for more information on this topic

Christel Marchand Aprigliano writes about life with diabetes at:
theperfectd.com

Find out everything about the Diabetes UnConference (and read experiences from attendees too), by going to:
DiabetesUnConference.com

The Diabetes UnConference will be held February 10, 11, and 12 at the Westin Las Vegas. Register by January 24 by going to:
DiabetesUnConference.com/register

Here’s to 2016.

I have to admit, it’s been quite a year.

Full of meetings and partings, full of new issues, and always full of interesting twists and turns, 2016 was eventful indeed.

I didn’t get a chance to participate in clinical trials this year, but I did get to do what feels like my first meaningful work for People With Diabetes by facilitating at the Diabetes UnConference, and representing DPAC at Friends for Life. There were fewer blog posts than in recent years, but I’m kinda seeing that from everyone these days.

We are up to 80 plus Champion Athletes With Diabetes medals awarded all time, thanks to some amazing athletes who shared their inspirational stories of perseverance this year.

There were some great podcast interviews, and though they are pretty infrequent, I’m still getting a kick out of interviewing my guests. Every conversation is different and very interesting. More interviews to come in 2017.

I haven’t done this for a couple of years, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell my year in photos. Check out the captions for specifics. Here goes:

2016 was the year I finally settled on a new insulin pump: the Animas Vibe.

2016 was the year I finally settled on a new insulin pump: the Animas Vibe.


Loved participating in Diabetes Podcast Week.  Can't wait until 2017's edition!

Loved participating in Diabetes Podcast Week. Can’t wait until 2017’s edition!


At the JDRF Type One Nation research summit in March, I finally met diabetes (and RA) blogger from Baltimore, Molly Schreiber.

At the JDRF Type One Nation research summit in March, I finally met diabetes (and RA) blogger from Baltimore, Molly Schreiber.


The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni.  I facilitated for the first time.  A meaningful event made even more meaningful.

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni. I’m somewhere in the back. I facilitated for the first time. A meaningful event made even more meaningful.
(image courtesy of The Diabetes Collective, Inc.)


The Children With Diabetes organization came back to the D.C. area for Friends For Life in Falls Church, Virginia in April. Their website says they're coming back in 2017.

The Children With Diabetes organization came back to the D.C. area for Friends For Life in Falls Church, Virginia in April. Their website says they’re coming back in 2017.


April was a busy month that included the Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum in Los Angeles.  Great to spend time with more awesome advocates.

April was a busy month that included the Medtronic Diabetes Advocates Forum in Los Angeles. Great to spend time with more awesome advocates. I’m somewhere in the back.


Thank you Karen Graffeo for years of Diabetes Blog Weeks.  2016's week was superb, and I discovered more new blogs!

Thank you Karen Graffeo for years of Diabetes Blog Weeks. 2016’s week was superb, and I discovered more new blogs!


Coming back from knee surgery last year, I was able to run my neighborhood 5k in July.

Coming back from knee surgery last year, I was able to run my neighborhood 5k in July. I’ll be back next year, and I have definite plans for at least one bike ride.


I was proud to represent Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition at the big enchilada, the Friends for Life gathering in Orlando in July.  I was also extremely fortunate to spend time with great people, including Karen and Pete Graffeo, and one of my favorite writers, Cara Richardson.

I was proud to represent Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition at the big enchilada, the Friends for Life gathering in Orlando in July. I was also extremely fortunate to spend time with great people, including Karen and Pete Graffeo, and one of my favorite writers, Cara Richardson.


Encouraged by a few people I met in July at Friends for Life, I applied for and received my 25 year Journey medal from Lilly Diabetes.

Encouraged by a few people I met in July at Friends for Life, I applied for and received my 25 year Journey medal from Lilly Diabetes.


The Diabetes UnConference made its way to Atlantic City in September.  I'm wearing my Lilly 25 year medal on this day, sitting with the other facilitators in the front row.

The Diabetes UnConference made its way to Atlantic City in September. I’m wearing my Lilly 25 year medal on this day, sitting with the other facilitators in the front row.
(image courtesy of The Diabetes Collective, Inc.)


Cherise Shockley started with a goal of 12 hours of diabetes Twitter Chat on World Diabetes Day in November.  It turned into a full 24 hours of talking diabetes, with many moderators (including me), from around the world.I have been so fortunate to help moderate the Wednesday DSMA Twitter chat at least once per month this year.

Cherise Shockley started with a goal of 12 hours of diabetes Twitter Chat on World Diabetes Day in November. It turned into a full 24 hours of talking diabetes, with many moderators (including me), from around the world.
I have been so fortunate to help moderate the Wednesday DSMA Twitter chat at least once per month this year.


Insulin pricing has been an issue for a number of years, but it has gotten more notoriety lately, in part due to Senator Bernie Sanders' tweets.  There will likely be more discussion on this issue in the coming year.  See some of my recent blog posts to see my thoughts. (image courtesy of Twitter)

Insulin pricing has been an issue for a number of years, but it has gotten more notoriety lately, in part due to Senator Bernie Sanders’ tweets. There will likely be more discussion on this issue in the coming year. See some of my recent blog posts to see my thoughts.
(image courtesy of Twitter)

This isn’t everything either… I was able to attend an FDA workshop in August. There was the dustup over United Health Care’s decision to limit access by entering into agreement with Medtronic, making them the exclusive provider for insulin pumps through their insurance in the USA. And there’s FDA’s approval of the Medtronic 670g, the hybrid closed loop system that brings us closer to a truly artificial pancreas solution.

Those are just the things I’ve experienced this year. Of course, my diabetes is not your diabetes, so your year may have been different. However this year has gone for you, I hope that it has been filled with happiness and many new acquaintances. Even more so, I hope that 2017 brings you and I the best year yet. We deserve it! And please remember: I support you… no conditions.

The Diabetes UnConference experience.

Over the past two years, many people have questioned me about the Diabetes UnConference. What happens? How do you decide what to talk about? What do you mean, “meaningful connections”? And what’s that no-social-media thing all about? I’ll tell you, in the past two weeks, I even had someone call me out on Twitter over that last one.

So, from start to finish, let me walk you through what a participant experiences when they sign up to attend the Diabetes UnConference.
Un
To begin with… when you sign up, you’re on the list. That’s my term. But whatever term you might use, you are on the list. You’re added to the list of attendees who will receive e-mails about what to expect when you arrive. What the meeting rooms are like (they’re often a little cold). What meals are part of the UnConference schedule. Timing of the different events.

You’re also on the list receiving the survey. The important survey where you list the things you really want to talk about on UnConference weekend. Hey, we’re the experts in our diabetes. The UnConference idea centers around the attendees setting the agenda and sharing what they know, instead of another guy in a blue suit and red tie showing you his PowerPoint presentation. The survey results are compiled, and as much as possible, we try to include all the subjects important to the PWDs (People With Diabetes) and PLUs (People who Love Us) that will be joining us.

But you’re not on a list, or on an island, by yourself. You’re also added to the Diabetes UnConference Facebook group, the one that includes only the attendees and facilitators for your specific UnConference. This is where the bonding begins, where people start to get to know one another. Where the tribe begins to form. We begin with introductions and share stories well in advance of our weekend together.

Wow, we haven’t even gotten to the actual UnConference yet. Stay with me.

Registration begins on Friday afternoon. For the facilitators, it’s a chance to meet new attendees for the first time and answer any questions. For returning attendees, it’s a chance for smiles and hugs and a little catching up before our meet and greet on Friday evening.

At the meet and greet, attendees are finally in the same space all together for the first time. Old friendships are made new again. New friendships begin to take hold. I usually hear a lot of comments like “Oooh, I like the color of your pump”, or “I make that too, but I do it gluten free and it’s delicious”, or “Where did you find that cute patch to go over your CGM sensor?”. All of that sets us up for Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, we start to delve into the things that matter most to the people in attendance. Just a few topics are covered with everyone in the room. Mostly, PWDs gather to talk about what PWDs told us they wanted to talk about, and PLUs discuss things they shared via their survey. These are the moments that can be the funniest, the most raw, the most scary, and everything in between. And this is the reason for the no-social-media-during-the-sessions policy.

When people are sharing things that, in some cases, they have held close to their heart for many years, it would just be unfair to share that with the rest of the world via Twitter or Facebook. That is not why someone opens themselves up like that. They do it because they’re in a place where they feel protected, safe, without judgement. It is a protective cocoon where members of the tribe know there are no wrong questions. It’s a place where people can speak and know others are listening instead of reading another online news story on their phone. It’s where we feel respected. Where we feel valued as members of the tribe.

Often, at meals, in between sessions, and even during sessions sometimes, additional conversations are taking place in the hallways among people who connect even further on specific subjects that are more important to them than anything else going on anywhere else at that time. This is all part of those “meaningful connections” we often speak about.

Saturday night, the group gets together for a bit of a party or an outing as a group. After a day full of discussion on some heavy subjects, we need a little time to blow off some steam. So if you see posts of people letting go on Saturday night, this is why.

Once the last session is complete on Sunday, and people begin to head home, there are hugs and tearful goodbyes and contact information exchanged. There is a lot of hanging around and sharing one on one or two on two, etc. This can last for hours after. First-time attendees become alumni. Alumni look forward to continuing the conversation via the Diabetes UnConference Alumni group on Facebook, where alumni from all the UnConferences talk about their achievements, or vent about their frustrating day. Once the tribe forms, you’re part of the tribe forever.

You know, that’s a lot of stuff packed into just three days. Three days plus the time leading up to the UnConference, and the lifetime of friendships that come after. Still, a lot of stuff.

Yes, the Diabetes UnConference is unique. No, it’s not exclusive in any way. Yes, you will be welcomed as an equal whether diabetes has been a part of your life for 50 years or 50 days. It’s not always about “hey, I was able to lower my A1c”, though that happens sometimes. It’s more about knowing you are the expert in your diabetes, regardless of where your A1c sits at the moment. It’s about a shared experience with people who, if you let them, will be a part of your life for the rest of your life.

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas will be February 10 -12, 2017. To join the tribe, register here:
diabetesunconference.com/register

Full disclosure: I am part of the 2017 team of facilitators for the Diabetes UnConference.

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