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State Representative visits Primary Care discussing capped insulin prices, donates diabetic supplies

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 4:08 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - State Representative Bill Wesley visited Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky Tuesday morning to discuss House Bill 95, and donate diabetic supplies.

“I’m just wanting to sponsor somehow and reach out and just make myself known to these people that there’s people out here the care especially at the House of Representatives,” said Wesley.

In March, Governor Beshear signed House Bill 95, which caps insulin prices at $30 per 30 day supply for many Kentuckians.

“We just really didn’t realize how big of an impact this bill was going to make,” said Wesley.

Wesley says helping those with diabetes is personal to him, as his grandmother was diagnosed with the disease.

When he was five years old, he gave her the wrong dose of insulin, which put her in a coma.

“Is there something I could have done then? Absolutely not, but I lived with that for a long time thinking that I did something wrong but now I can make a change, I can make a difference even if it’s just passing out these little monitors to help somebody that’s what we’re going to do,” said Wesley.

He later found out his grandmother was rationing her insulin as she could not afford the monthly cost, which ended up costing her, her eyesight.

“The diabetics they don’t really know what they’re doing to their body,” said Wesly.

Dr. John Jones, the medical director at the Mary E. Martin Diabetes Center of Excellence at Primary Care, says Kentucky has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the nation, especially in Eastern Kentucky.

“It’s really rampant as far as the complications we see from diabetes,” said Dr. Jones. “If they can know that it’s more than just a high blood sugar something on a meter and it can actually lead to heart attack, stroke, amputation or dialysis or damage to their eyes they usually really come around and do a lot better on paying attention to what they’re eating and what their blood glucose is running.”

Dr. Jones says his patients struggle to pay for insulin as many have to pay hundreds of dollars per month.

“There’s not a week that goes by that I haven’t seen somebody who did not use the medicine because they could not afford it,” said Dr. Jones. “We see it everyday in the patients that can’t afford it, or it’s not covered fully by their insurance or their high co-pays.”

He says the biggest challenge is to educate people, but House Bill 95 is a step in the right direction.

“Honestly, it’s an investment. When we talk about the complications of diabetes we know if we lower their blood sugar we’re preventing these complications that could honestly cost the system thousands and thousands of dollars whether it’s heart attack, a stroke, an amputation or dialysis. It’s honestly an investment that will save the commonwealth money in the long run,” said Dr. Jones.

The diabetes center in Primary Care offers many services for free. To see what they offer, click here.

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