The rising cost of insulin became headline news in Minnesota in 2017 after Alec Smith, just 26 years old, died when he was kicked off his mother’s health care plan due to his age, and he cut back on his insulin to make it last longer. There were calls to lower the price of insulin or even to provide people like Alec with free insulin. Five Republican members of the Minnesota Senate have now proposed what they call a “simple and elegant solution”: a state program that would provide emergency insulin through an already existing network of fee-for-service pharmacies (“Let’s find a solution to the insulin crisis,” May 30).
There is a better solution: Give everyone with Type 1 diabetes access to Medicare at the time of diagnosis.
People with Type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. Without it, they can become ill within hours and die within days. To deny these people access to insulin is unconscionable. But access to insulin is not the whole solution . The day-to-day management of Type 1 diabetes is complex, time-consuming and expensive. Besides insulin, people with diabetes need glucose-testing supplies, insulin pumps, syringes and infusion sets. And, importantly, they need ongoing, expert, coordinated care. A diabetes crisis can land a person in the ICU. This is expensive. But most of the cost of diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) is related to the treatment of and disability from long-term complications. These are reduced by careful management of the disease over time.
Why provide this for Type 1 diabetes and not another disease? Type 1 diabetes has unique features that make it an ideal disease to start with:
1. It is definable. It usually has an abrupt onset with classic signs and symptoms, and there are standard laboratory tests that confirm its diagnosis.
2. It is relatively uncommon. Just 5 to 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1.
3. It is not a “lifestyle disease” and is not related to body weight. This may make funding its care less controversial.
4. It usually begins early in life and so has the potential to cause years of suffering, productivity loss and expense.
5. There is research evidence, recognized for many years, that tight control of the blood glucose level, especially early in the course of the disease, prevents complications and prolongs life.
The debate over how to fix our health care system is likely to continue for some time. In the meantime, offering Medicare coverage to those with Type 1 diabetes is both morally right and fiscally sound.
Mary Ragsdale, Minneapolis
Klobuchar is, actually, our best shot
Amy, stay where you are and make the most of it — that is, your run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination (“Amy, come back to a job you do well,” May 31). You are, actually, the best candidate. That fact may take awhile for the nation to understand. And it may never, as has happened far, far too many times.
Rodney Hatle, Owatonna
• • •
The May 31 letter to the editor about Sen. Amy Klobuchar was a shocking reminder of a less-enlightened era. Apparently the writer, in calling for the senator to “come home,” seeks to resurrect a shameful episode in our state’s history. As anyone familiar with Minnesota history is aware, the “Coya, come home” campaign in 1958 was a misogynist attack that cut short the promising career of a groundbreaking female legislator, Coya Knutson, waged by her political rivals with the cooperation of her sadly inadequate husband. Either the letter writer is woefully ignorant of Minnesota history, or he affirmatively embraces this sort of nastiness. His comments on Klobuchar’s treatment of her staff and her “carefully coiffed image” would indicate the latter. (Would he comment on the way Sen. Bernie Sanders or Beto O’Rourke treat their staff or on the “carefully coiffed image” of Joe Biden or Sen. Cory Booker?)
As self-appointed political sage, the writer decides that Klobuchar has little chance in this race. We are not alone in believing that she has an excellent shot at capturing the nomination and the White House. (The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board thought so in February, and so did the Economist.)
It is way too early to start paying attention to polling statistics that simply reflect name recognition at this point. Democrats may well come to the view that a smart, hardworking and progressive woman with a proven ability to work across party lines and attract voters in rural districts is likely to find the path to victory.
Karin J. Birkeland and Lee R. Mitau, Minneapolis
Not too late to reroute this decision
The Kenilworth-Cedar Lake Corridor commuter pedestrian/bicycle path, the most intensely used trail in the Minneapolis park system with some 746,000 annual visits, put Minneapolis on the map for bike commuting. It will now be closed for several years to build light rail just as our city slipped to third place for great parks behind Washington, D.C., and St. Paul (both capital/government cities).
The Southwest Light Rail Transit plan cuts between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles and interrupts groundwater lake recharge with a submerged tunnel. What a shame to sacrifice the top of the Chain of Lakes to a George W. Bush-era light rail plan that promotes sprawl and avoids urban density and economically stressed areas.
SWLRT is about development, not equity. It will not service the Northside or Uptown. It is transit without the mass.
An urban forest of some 1,000 trees will be sacrificed where no homes or industry now exist. Trees suck up storm water in this time of increased rainfall, hold soil in place, temper wind and scrub the air of pollution.
SWLRT is a $2 billion construction project, the most expensive public works project ever proposed in Minnesota. It will apparently be funded by Hennepin County residents with sales tax increases. Matching federal funds have not yet been allocated.
Add to initial costs an estimated $30 million in yearly operating expenses, plus potential accidents of co-locating ethanol-carrying freight trains beside electric human commuter rail.
According to the Met Council, the area of high potential for the endangered bees is Interstate 394 to Beltline Boulevard — in other words, the Kenilworth Corridor. It is as if we are making war on our own land, water and pollinators at a time when we have only a dozen years to reverse our beeline to climate tipping point.
It is never too late to reroute a bad decision.
Susu Jeffrey, Minneapolis
Follow facts: Investigation is over
For those who read the article on Robert Mueller (“Mueller: Trump not exonerated,” May 30), he said charging the president was “not an option” and that there was insufficient evidence to do so.
A recent letter writer from Minneapolis says he will follow the facts (“I’ll follow the facts, thanks,” May 30). If Mueller had any evidence of the president’s guilt he would have presented it. The facts say this wild goose chase should be over.
Ron Brevig, Burnsville