TV host Dr. Phil McGraw was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 25 years ago. On Wednesday, he joined Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Tom Reed, R-N.Y., who co-chair the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, to raise awareness about increasing legislative support for the disease.
Q: Why is coming to Congress to discuss this issue important to you?
A: I want to cause [Congress] to say, “Wow, this is an important issue.” I really think we need to teach people to ask questions. We need to teach people to pay attention to the signs and the symptoms in their body and we can’t do that if we don’t have the legislation that makes that information available.
Q: How long have you been in touch with these members on the Congressional Diabetes Caucus?
A: I’m actually just meeting a lot of them today, which is really an important thing to me because I’ve tracked them for a good while. So when kindred spirits come together, you feel like you’ve known each other for a long time because we have some of the same priorities. I think this is the beginning of what I hope is going to be a long-term partnership.
Q: Have you ever been to D.C. to push for legislation before?
A: Because of my show and the kind of things that we deal with, I’ve been invited here from time to time as a content expert to testify before different bipartisan committees and hearings on different subject matters … they feel like I’ve kind of got my finger on the pulse of what’s going on.
Q: What kind of response have you received from your ON IT movement, a campaign to empower adults with the disease?
A: It’s six steps and we’ve put them together … and it really kind of starts with saying, “Look, you’re not alone.” This is a disease that has a lot of judgment to it sometimes — there are emotional challenges to this. I start by having them move forward. The response has been really good, I’ve been really proud of that.