WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today held a hearing to examine the impact that juvenile diabetes has had on children and their families, the economic costs of caring for people with diabetes, and the promising breakthroughs in juvenile diabetes research that could lead to better treatments or a cure for the disease. Thirteeen-year-old Caitlin Crawford of Yarmouth, Me., and 17-year old Caroline McEnery of Fairfield, Conn., both testified at today’s hearing as “Children’s Congress” delegates representing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., turned the gavel over to Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., to chair the hearing because of her longstanding interest in the subject matter.
More than 100 children, ages 4 to 17, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, are participating in this year’s Children’s Congress. In addition, actress Mary Tyler Moore, NBA player Adam Morrison of the Charlotte Bobcats, and Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health testified at today’s hearing.
Senator Lieberman said, “Nearly 21 million Americans suffer from diabetes and about 1.5 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year. Approximately one in every 400 to 600 children and adolescents have Type I diabetes and every year, about 13, 000 American children are diagnosed with Type I diabetes – about 35 children every day, or more than one child every hour. Over the past 30-plus years, JDRF has provided more than $1 billion to juvenile diabetes research in a quest for a cure and to better manage the diseases complications. With funding support from the JDRF-NIH joint federal-private partnership, significant insights have been gained into the underlying mechanisms of this disease and promising therapies to prevent and treat it and its complications are being tested.”
“As the founder and Co-Chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, I have learned a lot about this disease and the difficulties and heartbreak that it causes for so many American families as they await a cure. Diabetes is a life-long condition that affects people of every age, race and nationality. It is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness in adults, and amputations not related to injury. Moreover, it is estimated that diabetes accounts for more than $132 billion of our nation’s annual health care costs, and that health spending for people with diabetes is almost double what it would be if they did not have diabetes,” said Senator Collins. “These statistics are truly overwhelming. But what really motivates me to devote so much energy to this issue was meeting more and more people – like our delegates today and their families – whose lives have been forever changed by diabetes. That is why it is so important that you have all traveled to Washington today to tell your stories. You put human faces on all of the statistics. You will help us to focus on what Congress can do to help us better understand and ultimately conquer this terrible disease.”
Actress Mary Tyler Moore has lived with diabetes for 40 years and is the international spokesperson for JDRF. She is an advocate for increased federal funding for research and today she described how critical the cooperation between JDRF and the government is to eventually finding a cure. Ms. Moore called the JDRF Children’s Congress delegates a “determined bunch,” and said “we are here to remind the government of the urgency of efforts to increase research dollars and are willing to do our part to help in the effort.”
This is the fourth Children’s Congress hearing held by the Committee.