Our organization has a new name, but at 2024 Government Day, our advocates had the same mission: Tell Congress what they must do to support the T1D Community. Luckily for Breakthrough T1D, our advocates are the best in the country and were more than up to the task.

A critical event

Without the partnership of the Federal Government, we will never achieve the ultimate breakthrough—cures for T1D. Our champions on Capitol Hill have enacted key legislation and policies that have directed billions in funding to T1D research to date and crafted policies that have made it easier for our community to manage this disease.

This year, 230 Breakthrough T1D Advocates headed to Washington, D.C., to meet with their Members of Congress and let them know what they can do now and next to continue to drive breakthroughs. All said, they conducted approximately 500 meetings!

Preparing for the Hill

Before their Congressional meetings, our advocates were treated to a full day of detailed briefings. This included seminars on the research partnership between Breakthrough T1D and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our key messages for Members of Congress, and more.

Advocates also had the distinct pleasure of hearing from two Members of Congress.

Senator Mark Warner and Representative Brett Guthrie both took time to speak about the importance of advocacy and their commitment to working with us to cure T1D.

Introducing Breakthrough T1D

2024 Government Day coincided with our announcement that JDRF is now Breakthrough T1D. Our advocates’ first task was to reintroduce us to their Members of Congress to let them know that while our organization has a new name, we have the same mission—we continue to advocate for the millions of people affected by T1D. They also reinforced that this new name will allow us to better represent the entire T1D community, from the children and families who just received a life-changing diagnosis to the adults who have been living with T1D for decades.

Renewing the Special Diabetes Program

The next item on the agenda was renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP).

The SDP is a critical Federal program that currently provides $160 million annually for T1D research through NIH. This program funds research across all stages of T1D, including prevention, treatments, and cures. It has also delivered significant results for the T1D community. Just a few examples include:

  • The first FDA-approved therapy to delay T1D onset in individuals in early-stage T1D
  • The development of automated insulin delivery systems, which are now standard of care of people with T1D
  • Therapies for the most common T1D complications, including diabetic eye disease

The funding for this important program is set to expire on December 31, 2024, and Breakthrough T1D Advocates asked Members to enact a multi-year renewal of the SDP at $170 million annually.

Pass the INSULIN Act

Everyone who relies on insulin to survive must have access to this life-saving therapy at a predictable, affordable price. Breakthrough T1D is tackling this problem in several different ways, including by supporting the non-profit Civica to manufacture and sell insulin. Our champions on Capitol Hill are working to address this problem, too.

The INSULIN Act, a bi-partisan bill introduced by Senators Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen, is the legislation best suited to address this problem and the foundational issues that have created it.

Advocates called on their Members to support this bill, which would establish a $35 per month insulin co-pay cap for those with commercial insurance and take additional steps to ensure insulin is more affordable for everyone, regardless of insurance status.

You too are encouraged to contact your Members about this legislation.

Other asks

Advocates also requested strong Federal funding for NIH, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.

Additionally, they asked their Members of Congress to keep Breakthrough T1D in mind as they begin to consider and weigh legislation related to cell therapies. This research, which is advancing at a prodigious rate, is no longer science fiction. Insulin-producing cells created in a laboratory have been placed into people with T1D in clinical trials—and they’re working. It’s critical that we work together now to ensure that these therapies have the smoothest possible path to commercialization.

Celebrating together

Government Day culminated in the ‘In it to End it’ Congressional Reception hosted in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate building. This event, which was kicked off by Breakthrough T1D CEO, Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., and Chief Global Advocacy Officer, Lynn Starr, featured remarks by Senate Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs, Senators Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen, and Congressional Diabetes Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Diana DeGette and Gus Bilirakis, was a celebration of the new brand and all the breakthroughs we have achieved together. It was also a moment to appreciate the special relationship between Breakthrough T1D and Congress and to rally together for the next step of our shared journey toward cures for T1D.

You can join too

The Advocates who traveled to Washington did an amazing job telling their stories—and we need you to tell yours, too. If you haven’t already, sign up to be an advocate today. We need your voice to ensure Congress continues to support the needs of the T1D community