Pike on hand to view legislation she authored

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On Friday, July 6, Missouri State Representative Patricia Pike, R-146, was on hand in Springfield as Governor Mike Parson signed several bills including legislation on Diabetes which she helped to author.

Last October, Pike convened the “Show-Me Diabetes” forum which was co-hosted by Kelly Ast, program coordinator with Healthy Nevada. The forum focused on two things.

First, it explored the impact of the disease in this state and especially in southwest Missouri. Second, it reviewed possible legislative action ranging from funding for specific initiatives to promoting awareness.

Said Pike, “Diabetes affects more than 446,000 adult Missourians with a prevalence of 9.6 per 100 people. It is estimated that another 300,000 Missouri adults have pre-diabetes, but many are unaware.”

She went on to say unmanaged diabetes is the cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations in adults, and is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

Current estimates put the economic cost for families and the state at more than $4.8 billion annually.

“This legislation creates an annual statewide conversation for citizens to better understand the disease and seek pre-screening and treatment,” said the representative from Adrian.

Last fall’s forum invited professionals in Vernon and Bates Counties who work in areas related to diabetic health care and education. This included representatives from both county hospitals, diabetic educators, school nurses, YMCA, University of MO Extension, physicians and other community leaders.

“Diabetes leads to numerous emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths,” said Pike. “This is a large health cost to citizens and the state.”

While nearly all concerned with this issue would have welcomed a significant boost in state funding for diabetes education, direct services and local grants through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or other entities, Pike challenged the group to identify where efforts should begin.

It did not take long to reach consensus; the place to begin is with awareness.

Or as Pike put it, “Missouri can do a better job in helping its citizens combat this disease simply by raising the level of awareness.”

She went on to speak of how diagnosis of pre-diabetes symptoms provides a chance to prevent or slow down the onset of diabetes and early diagnosis of diabetes provides the opportunity to address complications the disease can cause.

Following the October forum in Nevada, Pike gathered a dozen health care experts from across Missouri at the statehouse in Jefferson City in mid-November to discuss the issue and inform reporters and the public.

Said Pike at that panel discussion, “Certainly, one of our goals today was to invite different agencies and entities that work with diabetic care together, to network, and to exchange ideas, and just see what is really going on in the state already.”

She also spoke of the need to reduce the diabetes rate among older Missourians saying one-third of people 65 and older have diabetes.

As a direct result of that fall forum, in December, Pike pre-filled what came to be designated as Missouri House Bill 1247. The bill designates November as “Diabetes Awareness Month” in Missouri.

Describing the bill, Pike said, “This legislation provides a platform for a state-wide awareness and utilizes resources already in place to remind citizens of the importance of knowing their family health history, being aware of pre-diabetic symptoms and working closely with their medical professionals if diagnosed.”

While the legislation easily passed the House as well as a committee hearing in the Senate, Pike looked at the legislative clock ticking away and feared the session would run out before the bill could be acted upon by the Senate.

Pike joined with State Senator Sandy Crawford, R-28, Buffalo, in putting together an omnibus bill (SB 951) which came to include 18 separate provisions, including hers on Diabetes which was added as an amendment.

In early 2017, Pike addressed a gathering of high schools students, faculty, staff and board members at Nevada High School.

In a memorable presentation, she showed students the various steps which legislation must undergo before arriving at the governor’s desk for signing. She also shared her interest in diabetes legislation.

As the district 126 representative told students, “Diabetes is not just one disease. It’s actually a group of four metabolic diseases in which the body has elevated blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time and affects Missourians of all ages.”

Students were immediately able to name classmates who were diabetic and could tell stories about some of the scary moments they’ve had witnessed when blood sugar levels had suddenly dropped.

And now that the legislation has been enacted, what is next?

“We are already planning activities for our 126th District citizens in conjunction with having this legislation in place and will be sharing similar strategies statewide,” said Pike.

For the 2017-2018 legislative session, the very first bill adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the governor (March 1) was another bill by Pike.

House Bill 1246 requires the Missouri Department of Public Safety to develop human trafficking hotline posters to be posted in high profile areas where human trafficking is happening. Truck stops, bus stations, strip clubs, airports and some hotels will be required to start displaying the posters as of March 1, 2019. Specified in the bill are that the poster will have definitions of human trafficking including labor exploitation, how to identify it and resources for getting help.

Rep Pike, “Resources are available, but victims don’t always know how to access them or are not in situations where they are able to. Missouri is currently ranked 16 in human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. This legislation will unify efforts across the state for victims to get help.”

Yet if there is one topic Pike most wants to see accomplished legislatively it is an effort to add dehydrated or powdered alcohol to provisions relating to intoxicating liquor.

Said Pike, “This is a bill I’ve continued to work on. It has been well received in the House but has stumbled in the Senate. I have been working closely with several senators and I think we are addressing concerns; I will likely pre-file a bill on this in December.”

When speaking on previous occasions at Nevada High School some students were unaware this substance existed but were quick to realize how it could be smuggled into school or added to a bottle of water without a person’s knowledge, leading to serious problems.

Pike said, “Powdered alcohol is even being placed in a type of gum. I consider it an issue of public safety for our schools, teens, and young adults.”

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