After months of political wrangling, North Carolina legislators succeeded in passing a bill that would promote diabetes screening for infants and toddlers, and parent education about the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. The legislation, known as Reegan’s Rule, stalled for months, and it took some last-minute heroics on the part of its sponsors for it to pass. It is the first diabetes screening law of of its kind in the nation.
After 16-month-old Reegan Karice Oxendine died from undiagnosed Type 1, her family and neighbors launched a Facebook campaign for legislation that would require Type 1 testing of newborns and children at well-child visits. TestOne.Drop.org and other diabetes advocacy organizations joined the cause, and soon two members of the North Carolina General Assembly came onboard.
North Carolina state representative Charles Graham and state senator Jane Smith filed identical bills in the house and senate in January to mandate diabetes screening of newborns and of kids to age three. However, well-child practitioners objected to the mandate, saying they worried they would be held responsible for well-child visit attendance. House committee members crafted a compromise, revising the bill’s language instead to encourage medical professionals to educate parents of children under five about the symptoms and risks of Type 1 diabetes.
Still, there was little progress made. As a summer legislative deadline approached, the senate bill had stalled, but the house version was still alive, with an amendment tacked on to enact an unrelated health insurance market reform. By September, a senate amendment concerning a community hospital system had been added. Still, there was no move to vote on the bill.
Legislators came to the rescue, though, in the wee hours of the morning of the final legislative day. State representative Graham described in an email interview with Insulin Nation how Reegan’s Rule had been added to a bill on pharmacy insurance regulation. That legislation was passed just in time to be signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory.
While the final language of the bill may not be as strong as some might have liked, it’s being hailed by diabetes testing advocates as an important first legislative victory. Already, some advocates are pushing for similar legislation in other states. If such efforts succeed, then Reegan’s Rule will be considered an important milestone in improved screening for Type 1 diabetes.
October 8th, 2015 – An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Reegan’s age was 3 years old when she died. Insulin Nation sincerely regrets the error.
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