By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)– Insulin users say the skyrocketing cost of the drug is forcing them to make some tough decisions. Rep. Diana DeGette met with some diabetics in Colorado this week to discuss the issue.

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Sierra Lucero was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was just 10 years old. As an adult, when she was kicked off of Medicaid because she made too much money at $12/hour, she had to start paying for it and health insurance out of pocket.

Sierra Lucero (credit: CBS)

That has led to some impossible decisions.

“This insulin like I said, its gold. It’s life or death and the money is better spent that direction but we’re getting penalized for not paying for insurance. It’s just killing us all around,” said Lucero. “I feel like with the way the government is set up and the way everything is going on they just want me to die.”

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She’s not alone. Many Americans living with diabetes strike a delicate balance between paying for insurance, paying for insulin and being able to provide food for themselves and a roof over their head.

Rep. Diana DeGette (credit: CBS)

“When you hear somebody talking about how they have to work two jobs to afford insulin and then they still couldn’t afford it and so they had to go to the hospital four times, it just breaks your heart,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat representing Colorado in Congress.

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Her daughter is diabetic and she worries about the struggle Americans with diabetes face. That’s why she is holding hearings with patients and pharmaceutical executives in the next two weeks in Washington D.C.

DeGette met with local constituents on Friday to hear their stories. She thinks legislators can make a huge difference.

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“We can increase transparency in the system, we can force the pharmaceutical companies to disclose their list prices and disclose how they arrive at their prices and ultimately we can legislate around what prices are offered to patients,” said DeGette.

She and people like Sierra hope eventually Americans with diabetes can manage their disease affordably.

“It’s going to be so much cheaper if the companies or insurance or anybody would just lower the prices. That would just benefit us enough so we can survive,” said Lucero.

Michael Abeyta