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Demands for Affordable Insulin Grow as MN Lawmakers Consider Bills

Advocates for reducing insulin costs say one in four diabetics have to ration their supplies because of skyrocketing prices. (Adobe Stock)
Advocates for reducing insulin costs say one in four diabetics have to ration their supplies because of skyrocketing prices. (Adobe Stock)
February 27, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A plan to address the high cost of insulin gained some traction in the Minnesota Legislature yesterday, but a final agreement still is uncertain. And after months of debate, those who rely on the drug want action soon.

The DFL-led Minnesota House passed its latest version of a bill that aims to get more insulin in the hands of people who can't afford it. But it's unclear if the GOP-led Senate will go along.

The two chambers have been wrangling over the issue for several months. Jason Broberg is a member of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees political council, and says he's fortunate that MAPE helps cover his expenses for the drug.

But he says those who aren't as lucky need immediate help.

"They've not done anything to end up in the situation they're in," says Broberg. "They're victims of a system that has not functioned."

According to a recent study by the Health Care Cost Institute, insulin prices have nearly doubled since 2012.

Legislative efforts in Minnesota center around creating emergency access to the drug. But whether or not the state should force manufacturers to cover the costs has been a sticking point.

Broberg says he supports the House plan, which does rely on asking manufacturers to chip in for most of the costs. He says their actions have created this problem.

"Some buy-in from pharma is just fair," says Broberg. "Shifting the burden to the taxpayers is unfair."

Senate GOP leaders have been pushing to have the costs for emergency insulin supplies split more evenly between the state and drug companies. Some Republican leaders have accused Democrats of trying to punish manufacturers when calling attention to the issue.

Disclosure: Minnesota Association of Professional Employees contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN