Minnesota House Majority Leader apologizes for giving the finger during insulin press conference

Rep. Ryan Winkler said he was frustrated over Republicans' comments about a bipartisan insulin affordability deal.
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Minnesota House Majority Leader Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, has apologized for raising his middle finger during a press conference.

In a video of a press conference from Tuesday, Winkler can be seen in the background as Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, announces what he said is a bipartisan agreement on an insulin affordability bill.

The legislation has been more than a year in the making, with House Democrats and Senate Republicans unable to agree on certain aspects of a potential insulin program.

Winkler said he was frustrated watching Republicans "take credit" for the insulin bill. Winkler also noted his son is a type 1 diabetic. 

At the press conference, Jensen said a preliminary document has been written up that would iron out differences between House and Senate proposals, which have both passed in their respective chambers. Jensen is one of the authors of the Senate proposal. 

“This bill provides strong, tight language as to who’s eligible, it provides for an urgent 30 day program and an ongoing long-term program. It also provides a 30 day additional if you have an application in process,” Jensen said at the press conference.

Jensen also said under the bill, insulin manufacturers would fund the program, which is something that DFL lawmakers had long been calling for.

Rep. Michael Howard, DFL-Richfield, one of the authors of the House bill, said manufacturers would face a fine of more than $3 million for failure to participate under the new bill.

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Howard also said lawmakers will need to work out details on how to go about passing the bill, including whether work will be done remotely.

The House bill, passed in February, would provide an emergency three-month supply for insulin for patients, with additional assistance after that. The Senate bill, passed in March, would adjust existing patient programs provided by manufacturers, which would be charged a fine for failure to comply.

Both bills are named after Alec Smith, a 26-year-old Minnesotan who died rationing his insulin, for which he was being charged $1,300 per month.

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