The Manitoba government hopes a new round of funding will help hundreds of young Manitobans manage diabetes in a more affordable way.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced $6 million in funding Tuesday for two programs to pay for advanced glucose monitors and insulin pumps for Manitobans up to 25 years of age.
“Diabetes can be a difficult disease to manage at any age, but this is particularly the case for children and youth, their families and health-care providers,” Gordon said in a government release.
“Advanced glucose monitors enable individuals, their caregivers and health-care providers to identify glucose trends and adjust medications, activity and food intake.
“This kind of flexibility allows people with diabetes to live happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives, and I’m pleased we’re able to support this expansion in services.”
Gordon said the government estimates more than 1,000 Manitobans may seek coverage for advanced glucose monitors, and roughly 200 more Manitobans be able to use insulin pumps with no up-front costs through the program.
She noted the pumps — which are currently available to those under 18 through the Manitoba Pediatric Insulin Pump Program (MPIP) — typically cost roughly $6,400.
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The government says clients between 18 and 25 years of age will need to meet eligibility requirements similar to the MPIP program before receiving a pump, including having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and getting a recommendation from an endocrinologist.
Those approved will not have to meet their pharmacare deductible before they can receive an insulin pump, Gordon said, and pump supplies, like needles and catheters, will continue to be covered by the Manitoba Pharmacare Program.
Gordon said eligible Manitobans will need to pay out-of-pocket for advanced glucose monitors until their pharmacare deductible has been met for the year, but those receiving employment and income assistance will receive the equipment at no cost.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the announced funding does not go far enough.
In a statement to media, Lamont accused the Progressive Conservative government of “putting conditions and costs on life-saving devices.”
“Today’s announcement forces people to pay out of pocket for a device that warns a parent whether their child is slipping into a diabetic coma in their sleep,” Lamont said.
“This spring, the PCs insulin pump announcement only extended coverage for an extra 50 people and today’s announcement will extend it for a further 200. Many other provinces cover insulin pumps for all ages.
“Coverage for life-saving drugs and devices should be universal. If we really want to transform our health system, prevention should be free.”
Gordon called the funding a good first step and said she hopes the province can bump up that cutoff age even further in the years ahead.
The supports for glucose monitors will start Sept. 28 and the insulin pump program will go into effect in November, the province said.
— with files from Skylar Peters