Leadership in both the Minnesota House and Senate have made quick passage of insulin affordability bills a priority in 2020. Both bills are expected to be debated on the House and Senate floors in the coming weeks. Our legislative rep Dave Renner, CAE, shares more.
Senate Bill: Insulin Assistance Program
The Senate version of the insulin bill has seen the most substantial changes. Notably, the measure is now being authored by MAFP member Senator Scott Jensen, MD (R – Chaska). Previously, it had been carried by Senator Eric Pratt (R – Prior Lake).
The bill received its first hearing in the Senate on February 17, 2020, in the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee and was subsequently passed by the Senate Commerce Committee. It has since been referred to the Finance Committee where the bill is expected to be heard soon.
The Senate bill creates a state program to assist patients by utilizing existing patient support programs operated by insulin manufacturers. It uses MNsure to confirm eligibility, which the bill defines as income of less than 400 percent of the poverty level, ineligibility for public insurance programs or having high out-of-pocket expenses. The original bill required physicians’ offices to dispense the insulin received from the manufacturer. After concerns about the feasibility of this approach were raised by the physician organizations, the bill was amended to use pharmacies to distribute the insulin.
House Bill: Emergency Insulin Program
The House bill, authored by Representative Mike Howard (DFL – Richfield), cleared seven different committees in seven days and was passed to the House floor on February 19, 2020, by the Ways and Means Committee.
This bill differs from the Senate’s in that it establishes a new fee that would be levied on those insulin manufacturers who sell insulin in Minnesota. This fee would pay to provide low-cost insulin to eligible patients. The House’s eligibility requirements are similar to the Senate’s, though it’s set at 500 percent of the federal poverty level. Under the House bill, insulin would be picked up by patients at pharmacies.
The estimated cost of the House program–$36 million per year–surprised many! Representative Howard noted that the high cost reflects the exorbitant cost of insulin as well as the need.
MAFP President Renee Crichlow, MD, testified in the House Health and Human Services Finance Division on February 13, 2020, about the medical and financial realities of living with insulin-dependent diabetes (including how patients risk their health and life rationing medicine because of cost). Watch her powerful testimony (begins at 27:18).
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- Jami Burbidge, MAM, director of advocacy & engagement, @jami_burbidge
- Emie Buege, communications