Lifestyle

Carmel Valley resident joins more than 180 diabetes advocates for the American Diabetes Association’s 2017 Call to Congress Advocacy Day

On Thursday, March 30, Carmel Valley resident Hillary S. Liber, representing the state of California, met with Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Scott Peters, Susan Davis, Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter, Juan Vargas, and Ken Calvert to raise her voice on behalf of the more than 115 million Americans living with or at risk for diabetes. More than 180 advocates from 33 states convened at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., for the American Diabetes Association’s 2017 Call to Congress advocacy day.

The advocates, including adults and children living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, family members of people with diabetes, researchers, physicians and diabetes care providers, participated in 188 meetings with their members of Congress and urged them to address the diabetes epidemic. In addition to people with diabetes and health care providers, advocates included more than 30 members of Team Tackle — an initiative to engage professional football players to raise awareness of diabetes and prediabetes.

During the March 30 press conference, the Association outlined the state of the diabetes epidemic and called on Congress to protect access to adequate health insurance for people living with diabetes, to increase federal funding to support and drive diabetes research and programs, and to ensure that lifesaving insulin is accessible for all who need it. The Association remains dedicated to protecting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) from repeal without an immediate replacement that provides equal or greater coverage and protections for people with diabetes, according to a press release.

“Every 23 seconds another American is diagnosed with diabetes. If diabetes were a communicable disease, it would be the headline in every newspaper and the lead story on every channel,” said LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, senior vice president of advocacy for the American Diabetes Association. “Mrs. Liber and other local advocates helped to put a face to this epidemic and, by sharing their personal stories, to tell Congress that the time to act is now.”

Also at the press conference, the Association delivered its “Make Insulin Affordable” petition, signed by more than 235,000 people since November 2016, to Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus. The high cost of insulin has impacted many Americans. The Association recognizes that the affordability issue is a complex one, and the insulin supply chain includes many entities. The Association asked for Congress’ help to work with all of the stakeholders in the supply chain to identify the catalysts for the cost increases and to create viable solutions for all Americans who depend on this life-saving medicine.

“It was exciting to be in DC with the Call to Congress delegates this year more than ever,” Liber said. “Our Senators and Representatives are now (as compared to 10 years ago) all too well aware of the diabetes epidemic and its implications for the health, prosperity, and security of our nation. They want to hear from us! They want our help and advice on addressing this crisis for our nation.”

She continues, “I was group leader for the most phenomenal advocate group I’ve ever had in D.C.; 1) Basma Abdellaoui, a UCSD premed student who has Type 1 diabetes and has already begun her involvement with diabetes research; 2) her mother Rachida Abdellaoui (La Jolla) who is extremely proud of her daughter for managing her disease so well but worries about the long-term implications of diabetes and its complications on her life; and 3) UCSD medical researcher and community leader Dr. Alan Saltiel. I’ve been advocating with our legislators for over a decade and this group stands out as the best and brightest, people who really will help Stop Diabetes!”

Liber has lived in San Diego County for almost four decades, first in La Costa, and now in the Torrey Hills area of Carmel Valley. She has had adult onset Type 1 diabetes for nearly three decades, and has been involved with the American Diabetes Association for almost as long. After serving as Step Out Walk they Stop Diabetes Walk Chair in the late ‘90s, a member of the American Diabetes Association’s Greater San Diego Community Leadership Board for 16 years, Advocacy Chair for five years, and Chair of the Community Leadership Board for two years, she has recently been appointed to the American Diabetes Association’s National Advocacy Committee.

She has been married to Jeffrey Liber for over 44 years, and they have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and two granddaughters. She has been a special educator, an instructor at Palomar and Mira Costa Colleges, a religious educator and principal, a fundraiser with several organizations, and a trainer for teachers. Her community work, in addition to the American Diabetes Association, has included San Dieguito Academy, Congregation Beth Am, United Jewish Federation, the Center for Jewish Culture, Meals on Wheels, Temple Solel, United Way/CHAD and the American Israel Public Affair Committee.

She concludes, “The Centers for Disease Control says one-third of Americans will have diabetes by 2050 if we don’t intervene now. Already, today, everyone knows someone affected by diabetes and its complications (heart disease, stroke, blindness , amputation, and kidney failure). Diabetes currently costs our nation $322,000,000,000 each year, and that number would reach $1,000,000,000,000 if we don’t put a lot of effort and funding into prevention and research programs. I want my grandchildren to live in a diabetes-free world. That will only happen if we advocate and effect change.”

For more information, visit diabetes.org.

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