OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Legislative Diabetes Caucus kicked off Diabetes Awareness Month on Thursday by hosting an informational meeting to share their initiatives to raise awareness for the disease in Oklahoma.
Co-Chaired by Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer, and Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, the caucus focuses on bringing forth legislation that will positively impact the more than 366,000 Oklahomans who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.
Hicks shared that the caucus made progress for diabetes patients in Oklahoma during the 2020 legislative session, including working with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to make continuous glucose monitoring devices more accessible, but that there’s still more to come in 2021.
“Our legislative priorities include increasing the affordability and accessibility of needed medications and supplies for the treatment of diabetes,” Hicks said. “If we can shift our focus to prevention through cost reduction, we know we will see less hospitalizations or serious complications resulting from uncontrolled diabetes."
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the state and was determined to be the underlying cause of death in more than 1,300 people in 2018. In 2019, Oklahoma had the 12th highest prevalence of diabetes in the nation.
“Diabetes touches countless lives in our state, and it’s important we continue to work to improve health outcomes for those diagnosed with this disease,” Simpson said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done thus far in raising awareness for diabetes, but there is still much to be done to make access to life-saving medication and tools more affordable.”
The caucus meeting featured Oklahoma City rapper and Emmy award winner Jabee, who read a proclamation from Gov. Kevin Stitt sharing diabetes statistics in Oklahoma. Local dance group, Perpetual Motion, also performed a dance to introduce the #DancingForDiabetes challenge, which encourages Oklahomans to participate in physical activity, an important preventative and activity for those living with the disease.
“Routine engagement in the arts offers substantial benefits for our physical and emotional well-being,” said Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples. “I’m thrilled that the Oklahoma Legislative Diabetes Caucus is encouraging Oklahomans to consider dance, in its many forms, as a discipline that can result in positive outcomes in our state’s fight against diabetes.”
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