Call to Congress 2018: Diabetes Advocacy in Action

Are you interested in becoming a diabetes advocate? If so, consider attending next year’s Call to Congress sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. I just attended my second one and left feeling empowered and inspired.

Call to Congress - with Rep Barbara Comstock

With Representative Barbara Comstock (VA-10)

What is Call to Congress?

Call to Congress, a three-day event, brings together diabetes advocates from across the country. They come together to network and have face-to-face meetings with members of Congress (or their staffs). This year about 150 advocates and 9 members of Team Tackle attended, despite the weather.

To learn more about what happens at Call to Congress, check out what I wrote about the 2017 event. The format was basically the same, but I did meet with different people this year.

Who I Met

This year, the Virginia delegation was split into two groups. We all met with staff from our Senators’ offices, then the other group went to meet with their representatives. The folks in my group told their diabetes stories to:

  • Zoë O’Herin, Legislative Director and Counsel in Representative Dave Brat‘s office (VA-07)
  • Peter Mihalick, Legislative Director and Counsel in Representative Barbara Comstock‘s office (VA-10)
  • Nicholas Widmyer, Legislative Correspondent in Senator Tim Kaine‘s office (VA)
  • Mary Brazier, Fellow for Defense, Foreign Policy, and Health Policy in Senator Mark Warner‘s office (VA)
Call to Congress - Virginia delegation

The advocates from Virginia

Our “Asks”

When you meet with members of Congress, they know there’s a reason. You want something from them. We each told our stories about our personal connection to diabetes and then asked for the following:

  • $2.165 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the primary federal agency that conducts diabetes research
  • $185 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT), which leads efforts to reduce diabetes risks and complications while improving diabetes management
  • $25 million to the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a lifestyle intervention program proven to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased transparency, affordability, and access to insulin for those who rely on it to stay alive
  • Protection health insurance for people with and at risk for diabetes


We happened to be on Capitol Hill on the day of the vote on the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (“omnibus bill”). In fact, we had just sat down with Representative Comstock when she had to run out to vote. She came back and said “I just gave you everything you wanted!” Thanks, Representative Comstock, but that was for FY18. Let’s talk FY19!

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