Senate Appropriations Committee Hosts JDRF Children’s Congress

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, hosted a hearing titled, “Accelerating Breakthroughs: How the Special Diabetes Program Is Creating Hope for those Living with Type 1 Diabetes.”

The hearing was held in conjunction with the JDRF Children’s Congress, a biennial event to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes (T1D).  Approximately 165 Children’s Congress delegates from all 50 states and five countries attended the hearing.

“The Special Diabetes Program supports life-changing research for millions of kids and people across our country with Type 1 Diabetes, and it was such an honor to hear from this year’s delegates to the Children’s Congress about why this program matters so much,” said Senator Murray. “I’m also grateful to Vice Chair Collins for helping make today’s hearing a reality. She was such a leader in ensuring we reauthorized this program a few years back—and is a tireless champion on this issue as Co-Chair of the Diabetes Caucus along with Senator Shaheen. Here in Congress, we need to be making things easier for kids with Type 1 Diabetes, giving people hope, and showing we are serious about producing new breakthroughs—and I know that with the incredible advocates we heard from today, we are going to keep making progress, keep investing in life-changing research, and eventually find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.”

“The JDRF Children’s Congress serves as an inspiration to us all, showcasing the Delegate’s commitment to promoting life-changing research to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure Type 1 diabetes,” said Senator Collins.  “I am honored to have hosted today’s hearing with Senators Murray and Shaheen.  It is critical for Congress to fund programs like the Special Diabetes Program, and together, I am confident that we will continue the progress made and achieve that goal.”

“Advocacy matters, and the JDFR Children’s Congress are among our best allies in making the case for increased investments in research to find a cure.  This is one of the reasons why I have partnered with Senator Collins on the Special Diabetes Program Reauthorization Act.  At the same time, we must continue our efforts to pass the INSULIN Act, which Senator Collins and I have also authored and which comprehensively and permanently would solve insulin affordability.  Until the day comes when we finally have a cure, no patient should be forced to risk their lives rationing their daily insulin,” said Senator Shaheen.  “I am grateful to Senators Collins and Murray for their partnership on this effort and today’s hearing.  I am inspired to see the JDRF Children’s Congress work with us in these efforts, showing everyone how committed the next generation is to fight for breakthroughs in this disease.”

“The Special Diabetes Program has fundamentally changed what it means to live with diabetes, put new life-changing therapies in our hands, and brought us closer to cures,” said Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., JDRF CEO.  “We must keep this momentum going so we can capitalize on the progress to date and realize cures. However, until we have cures people need access to affordable insulin. JDRF urges Congress to pass the bipartisan INSULIN Act of 2023, which will establish a $35 per month insulin copay cap for people with commercial insurance and includes other provisions that would make insulin more affordable for everyone, regardless of insurance status.”

Witnesses for the hearing included:

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P., Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Bethesda, MD)

Aaron J. Kowalski, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, JDRF (New York, NY)

James "Jimmy Jam" Harris, Award-winning Music Producer and Philanthropist (Los Angeles, CA)

Maria Muayad, JDRF 2023 Children’s Congress Delegate (Yarmouth, ME)

Elise Cataldo, JDRF 2023 Children’s Congress Delegate (Hooksett, NH)

Senator Murray has long fought to invest in research to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure diabetes, and she is a strong supporter of efforts to cap the cost of insulin for patients nationwide.  As the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee during the 116th Congress, Senator Murray successfully pushed to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program with the support and leadership of Senators Collins and Shaheen.

As the founders and co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senators Collins and Shaheen have worked to increase awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, invest in research, and improve access to treatment options.  Last month, Senators Collins and Shaheen introduced legislation to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program, which is set to expire on September 30th.  This bill was advanced by the Senate HELP Committee in June.  In April, they introduced the INSULIN Act, which would comprehensively address the skyrocketing costs of insulin, removing barriers to care and making it more accessible for millions more Americans.