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Managing a chronic disease, like diabetes, is a challenge in its own right. It is even harder to do when you are having trouble affording your insulin. Those experiencing this difficulty may try to skip doses to make it last longer or stop taking their insulin altogether. This is extremely dangerous for people with diabetes because unchecked, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, end stage renal disease, limb amputation, blindness and ultimately death.

Improving health care access has been a priority of mine since I was elected to the California State Assembly. I have seen firsthand the impact diabetes has on patients and their families, and its particular impact on communities of color. Diabetes disproportionately affects African-Americans compared to the general population- 13.2 percent of African-Americans 20 or older have been diagnosed with diabetes.

So it’s critically important that we explore all options to help people access their much needed medication. For those who need assistance, Eli Lilly and Co. launched their Lilly Diabetes Solution Center this past fall to help people who need help paying for their Lilly insulin.

The call center they have established connects people to potential solutions based on their unique needs. It could be free insulin, discounted medicine or coverage options they may not be utilizing or even know about.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), just over four million people in California have diabetes and every year an estimated 263,000 people in California are diagnosed. It’s vital that they are able to access their medication and properly manage their diabetes so they can live longer, happy lives.

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke represents the 62nd District of the California State Assembly.