- Mike Dunbar
- Media Advisor
- (209) 404-5569
SACRAMENTO – For those living with diabetes, awareness of glucose levels is critical. When glucose levels are too high, it can impact your ability to concentrate, exercise, or even remain conscious. The Centers for Disease Control calls monitoring blood-sugar levels “the most important thing you can do” while living with diabetes.
If glucose levels spike and go unnoticed, those suffering from diabetes can end up in emergency rooms. But the most common and effective glucose-monitoring equipment was not available for those who rely on Medi-Cal benefits.
That’s all about to change.
In the just-completed legislative session, Assemblymember Adam Gray was successful in getting Continuous Glucose Monitors covered under Medi-Cal. His legislation, which becomes effective in 2022, will mean diabetic patients will be less burdened by the uncertainty of bloodstream glucose levels and can lead more normal lives.
It also means fewer will suffer from high blood pressure, amputations, coronary heart disease, or blindness. And fewer will be required to make hasty visits to emergency rooms or become hospitalized.
Gray first authored legislation to correct this situation in 2016, but it failed to get Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature because he deemed the cost too high. Gray fought back noting that the cost of a single hospitalization is well in excess of the cost of three dozen monitors. This year, his effort was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The turning point came in a committee hearing in which Gray learned that those with diabetes were more likely to suffer more serious complications from COVID-19. He pointed out that being unable to adequately monitor glucose levels put every diabetic who relies on Medi-Cal at greater risk than those who have other forms of insurance.
“Medi-Cal patients were singled out to receive lesser care as a shortsighted cost-cutting mechanism,” said Gray, who represents Merced and part of Stanislaus counties. “That has resulted in worse health outcomes and increased hospitalizations for our most vulnerable communities.
“Nearly 50% of the people I represent receive health insurance through Medi-Cal. As someone with diabetes in my family, this inequity is personal. This fight took 5 years and multiple bill vetoes to achieve, but starting next year, Medi-Cal is no longer allowed to treat poor and vulnerable people as second-class citizens.”
Gray also helped create a permanent endowment for a public policy center at UC Merced. The Center of Analytic Political Engagement will be established in conjunction with Fresno State’s Maddy Institute.
His goal, said Gray, was to “engage students who are passionate about making the Valley a better place to live and raise a family.”
Providing better health outcomes for diabetics and greater opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders were among the major focuses of Gray’s efforts in the legislative session that ended last week.
“It looks like we got a lot done,” said Gray, a Merced native. “But to tell the truth, we got a lot started. And until the people of our Valley are on the same footing with those who live in California’s coastal communities, our work will not be finished. We won’t stop until it is.”