By John Lauritsen

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — We first met Mallory Lorge in January during the government shutdown. A federal worker and a diabetic, she was rationing insulin as a way to make ends meet.

“You think you’re in control, but you’re not and it’s all around. It’s very difficult,” Lorge said. “And it’s frightening because you know what you’re doing is dangerous and you wonder, ‘How long can I live like this?’ The answer is not very long.”

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Now, she and thousands of other diabetics are looking for help in the form of a permanent fix to the insulin issue.

“This is a bipartisan effort to help families get access to insulin when they need it in an emergency,” Sen. Tina Smith said.

Smith is co-sponsoring a bill called the Emergency Access to Insulin Act. It will be introduced tomorrow, on the anniversary of Alec Smith’s death — a Minneapolis man who died after rationing his insulin. Through federal grants, this bill would allow states to set up emergency insulin assistance programs.

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“And it’s to say to the big insulin manufacturers whose prices have been going up and up and up, we want you to help pay for this emergency insulin,” Smith said.

Smith says the bipartisan bill would also penalize insulin manufacturers for price spikes, and promote market competition by making generics available faster. The announcement comes before a caravan is set to leave Minneapolis on Friday morning to buy cheaper insulin in Canada.

“In the richest country in the world, people should not have to go to another country to afford the medicine that is like the air we breathe. Without it, they can’t live,” Smith said.

It’s what Lorge has been saying all along. While she won’t be joining this caravan, she’s supporting those who do.

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“Doing this caravan also, it spreads the message that there is an insulin problem,” Lorge said.

John Lauritsen