By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A House committee approved a bill Tuesday that lets the state cap the cost for the diabetes medication.

Nearly half a million people in Minnesota have diabetes — 10 percent of the population — and lawmakers say many of them can no longer afford medication. Now, they’re trying to do something about it.

Diabetics rallied in the cold at the State Capitol to tell lawmakers the price of insulin is rising faster than they have the ability to pay.

At a packed hearing, diabetes patients described the sticker shock for this insulin vial that used to cost $20.

“To fill two vials of this insulin with health insurance costs me $595 for my one month supply,” said Quinn Nystrom of Baxter.

The legislation would allow the state commissioner of health to set a maximum reimbursement level for insurance companies.

The author of the bill, a Type 1 diabetic herself, says the state needs to step in when regular people can’t afford a lifesaving medication.

“Insulin is air to a person with diabetes,” Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, said. “If you don’t have access to your insulin, you don’t get to live.”

The pharmaceutical companies blame insurance companies for the high cost of insulin, and say state intervention may not help.

“While well intended, this bill does not address the issue of what a patient pays for prescription medicine,” Kristina Moorhead of PhRMA said.

Lawmakers are considering a package of insulin bills Tuesday, including one that sets up emergency insulin dispensaries for people who can’t afford their medication and — literally — might die.


Pat Kessler