Short of a cure, the great hope of Type I diabetics everywhere is the artificial pancreas. The insulin pump (or an improved model that can dispense glucagon as well as insulin) is half of the equation. The other half is the CGM or continuous glucose monitor. The CGM measures blood sugar using a catheter under the skin, and has only been available since 2007. CGM is in its early stages and requires more work before it can completely supplant finger sticks (because it measures glucose in interstitial fluid, there is a lag time of up to 15 minutes).
But the Holy Grail will be an integrated system consisting of a pump and CGM that talk to each other -- amounting to an artificial pancreas. Such a system, while not without nuisance and discomfort, would solve two huge problems: 1) It would significantly reduce the danger of extremely low blood sugars, which can lead to sudden death by warning the user about plunging glucose levels, and 2) reduce the incidence of diabetes complications like blindness, heart disease, and amputations to near zero for conscientious users.
But the 3 million Americans with Type I, including nearly 180,000 under the age of 20, will have to wait.
We have ensured, through Obamacare, that we will get less research and development of medical devices. We have also guaranteed that medical spending will increase dramatically. In Massachusetts, which passed a similar "reform" in 2006, health spending has increased by 8 to 10 percent per year, double the national average. And yet 200,000 Massachusetts residents remain uninsured.
Obamacare is a train wreck of a law. We cannot rely on the courts to reverse it. The only hope for sensible policy, both for fiscal and physical health, is repeal.
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