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American Diabetes Association Hosts Facebook Chat on Diabetes Rights and Discrimination

Published: 2/27/13
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The American Diabetes Association (Association) held a Facebook chat on the afternoon of January 30 to discuss issues about diabetes and discrimination. The chat was held on the Association's Facebook page and users posted their questions onto the page’s wall. The highly regarded Katie Hathaway, Managing Director for Legal Advocacy, answered audience questions. People with diabetes often face discrimination in many areas of their lives, whether it’s work, school, or even the military. Often, such discrimination occurs due to the lack of education on diabetes and diabetes management. Through its Legal Advocacy services, the Association helps people affected by diabetes understand their legal rights to prevent and stop discrimination.

The chat consisted of a range of questions relating to diabetes and discrimination. Questions focused on the safety of children with diabetes at school, discrimination in employment, and access to daycare and summer camp. Parents of children with diabetes asked about various situations in which their children’s schools do not provide nurses or they have problems securing Section 504 plans (developed by schools and parents to ensure that children with diabetes have accommodations so that they can attend school safely). Ms. Hathaway explained that schools are required to have personnel who can provide support for children with diabetes, whether that’s a nurse or another trained person; on the other hand, there is no legal requirement for a school to develop a written 504 plan – as long as they provide the services the child is entitled to under the law. Questions regarding discrimination in employment led to discussion of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which protects people with diabetes from discrimination when they need to miss work, for up to 12 weeks, to get medical care related to diabetes or any other medical issue. Other questions were about healthcare, insurance, social security, entry into the military, different insurance options to cover medications and insulin pumps, and issues regarding Medicare. It was great to see the spontaneous questions pop up and get answered – we hope very much that the Association does this again in the future. Can the next one be with Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, the esteemed Dr. Robert Ratner? We so hope so!

If you would like to learn more about these issues or have questions of your own, we urge you to call the Association at 1-800-DIABETES to learn how to get connected with a legal advocate. The Association also offered the government website http://www.healthcare.gov/ to those looking for resources on more insurance options, and their website, http://www.diabetes.org/discrimination, for resources on knowing your rights as a person with diabetes. –MA

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