POSITIVE POLICY

More Support For Australians With Diabetes

A Shorten Labor Government will improve access to life-saving technologies for Australians with Type 1 diabetes.

Labor will fully fund access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for:

  • All children and young adults up to the age of 21.
  • People aged 21 and over who have severe hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) and who, for health or other reasons, have limited awareness of the warning signs of impending hypoglycaemia.
  • Pregnant women.

This $79.7 million investment over four years will fully subsidise CGM technology for these groups, making it available to those who need it most.

Based on analysis by Diabetes Australia, more than 6,000 Australians with Type 1 diabetes are expected to benefit from Labor’s investment.

At its most extreme, hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) can be deadly. While deaths are rare, the long term complications of Type 1 diabetes can also be devastating, with effects including kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease, stroke and blindness.

Minimising these risks has previously required a painful and inconvenient routine of finger prick tests. Continuous glucose monitoring devices continually monitor blood glucose levels through sensors placed under the skin, which are linked to hand-held devices such as mobile phones or insulin pumps.

CGM technology reduces the risks of Type 1 diabetes and improves quality of life. However, the technology is expensive, and it is not currently subsided by the Australian Government. Labor will remove this cost barrier for thousands of Australians.

Labor’s investment in CGMs also makes economic sense. The devices help to reduce the short and long-term costs of treating diabetes.

Research shows that a single severe hypoglycaemic event can cost more than $18,000, including healthcare and productivity costs.

A Shorten Labor Government will also invest $4 million to expand access to the Insulin Pump Program, ensuring it can meet future demand.

The former Labor Government established the Insulin Pump Program in 2008 and expanded it in 2013. The Program provides subsidised access to insulin pumps, which deliver a continuous amount of insulin throughout the day.

Insulin pump therapy can be life-changing and potentially life-saving for people with Type 1 diabetes. It reduces the frequency of severe hypoglycaemia, enables better blood glucose management to reduce the risk of complications, and reduces the costs associated with ambulance use, emergency department presentations and hospital admissions.

Due to cost and poor access, only 12 per cent of Australians with Type 1 diabetes have accessed insulin pump therapy. Demand for the pumps continues to outstrip the number of subsidies that are available, and hundreds of Australians are on waiting lists for the Program.

Labor’s commitment of $1 million a year over four years will expand the program from the existing 68 pumps a year to 200 pumps distributed annually. This will meet current demand and help improve the quality of life of hundreds of people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Labor’s commitment to CGM technology and the Insulin Pump Program is further proof of our belief that all Australians should get the healthcare they need, not just the healthcare they can afford.