Skip to main content

Minnesota House passes emergency insulin bill, despite GOP opposition

There remains disagreement over how affordable insulin access should be funded.

The Minnesota House passed a bill that levy fees on drug companies to provide access to emergency insulin, but there remains debate over whether this is the best way to make the drug affordable for diabetes patients.

The House passed HF 3100, otherwise known as the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, by a vote of 75-52 on Wednesday night.

The bill is named for Alec Smith, who died at the age of 26 while rationing his insulin medication, for which he was being charged $1,300-a-month.

The bill would provide eligible Minnesotans with diabetes up to three months' supply of emergency insulin, as well as provide assistance to help them secure a long-term supply of the drug.

In order to pay for this, a fee would be levied on drug companies that Democrats hold responsible for the skyrocketing cost of insulin, which has tripled in the last 10 years. If 70 percent of diabetics eligible for the program use it, the fees would cost drug companies $38 million, according to Session Daily.

Copays for regulated health plans meanwhile would be called at $30 per month, with pharmacies required to take part in the insulin program in order to do business in the state.

Per Session Daily:

"To be eligible for the insulin program, people would have to be uninsured; have drug coverage through Medicare and have incurred more than $1,000 in annual out-of-pocket drug costs; or have private insurance with cost sharing that exceeds $50 for a month’s supply of insulin. Participants’ household income could not exceed 400% of federal poverty guidelines."

Here's how the vote went: 

Insulin vote

"Why are diabetics getting their medication for free?" lawmaker asks

Despite 52 voting against the bill on Wednesday, it looks likely that some form of deal will be reached, with Republicans in both the House and Senate keen on passing an insulin bill, while disagreeing with how it should be funded.

Rep. Kurt Daudt argues that health insurance companies and insulin manufacturers have already been making efforts to provide affordable insulin, with several Minnesota insurers announcing low co-pays for the drug late last year.

But Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield) said that despite this, at least two people in Minnesota have died since the end of the last legislative session because they couldn't get insulin.

Alternative plans have been proposed by Republicans, including one that would fund an emergency insulin program using state funds, rather than charging manufacturers a fee.

The Star Tribune reports that on the Senate side, Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), himself a medical doctor, has proposed a bill that instead of charging drug companies a fee, would instead just require them to provide insulin for distribution free of charge, which he says would cost between $10-$20 million.

Whichever form of bill passes the Republican-controlled Senate will have to be reconciled with what passed the House on Wednesday, but there appears motivation on both sides to pass a bill, after last year's effort failed at the last minute.

Among those opposing the House bill on Wednesday night was Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal), who questioned why diabetics should get their medicine "for free" and not cancer patients, questioning whether it's because they have "the best lobbying groups out there?"

The campaign to pass the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Bill has predominantly been a grassroots effort led by, among others, Alec Smith's mother, Nicole Holt Smith, along with other diabetes patients.

Pharmaceutical and health products companies, on the other hand, spent $228 million on lobbying efforts through three quarters of 2019, per Open Secrets.

Next Up

Nicholas Kraus

Man sentenced for fatally striking woman during Uptown protest

Nicholas Kraus, 36, of St. Paul drove into a protest in Uptown last year, killing Deona Marie Knajdek.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Fleeing suspect crashes into vehicle in Woodbury, 2 injured

The crash occurred Friday afternoon after a pursuit with Woodbury police.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 2.34.44 PM

Yes, that's MN native Jenny Taft in a State Farm commercial

Jenny Taft got her broadcasting career started in Minneapolis in 2011.

crime scene tape - police tape

23-year-old woman critical after shooting in Plymouth

A 23-year-old woman was shot Friday night in Plymouth.

white Christmas

2 MN towns among most 'magical' winter locations in the country

The list was compiled by Trips Discover and published earlier this month.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 8.27.12 AM

St. Olaf football player charged after fatal crash in Chicago

The 18-year-old is accused of speeding and going the wrong way when he crashed into a vehicle that may have been attempting to flee police.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 7.41.18 AM

Woman 34 weeks pregnant injured by drunk driver in Cottage Grove

The 49-year-old suspected of DUI was booked into jail around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

ambulance

2 dead, 5 injured in Thanksgiving Day crash near Alexandria

The crash involved two people from Alexandria and five from Bloomington.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 6.44.11 PM

Lengthy standoff in Prior Lake ends late Friday night

The suspect allegedly assaulted an officer outside Kwik Trip, fled and broke into a home.

snow - 12-10-21 - Joe Nelson - 5

Accumulating snow possible in Twin Cities next week

The storm system could arrive in the Tuesday-Wednesday timeframe.

Target store snow

With Black Friday barely underway, Target reveals Cyber Monday deals

Plans for the two-day sale were revealed Friday morning.

Screen Shot 2022-11-25 at 9.37.25 AM

Man waves replica assault weapon at drivers in downtown Minneapolis

The alarming incident was spotted by the new MPD chief, Brian O'Hara.

Related

insulin-2110059_1280

MN lawmakers work on emergency insulin bill, disagree on funding

There's hope an insulin bill can pass sooner than later.

Jeremy munson

Lawmaker's Walmart insulin video criticized as 'irresponsible'

Democrats have pointed out that over-the-counter insulin isn't suitable for many diabetics.

pixabay-diabetic-diabetes-insulin-testing-stirps

Clinic security guard charged with stealing boxes of insulin

There is currently high demand for affordable insulin for diabetes sufferers.

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 9.05.59 AM

House Majority Leader sorry for giving the finger during insulin presser

Rep. Ryan Winkler said he was frustrated over Republicans' comments about a bipartisan insulin affordability deal.

pixabay-diabetic-diabetes-insulin-testing-stirps

Big Pharma's challenge to Minnesota's affordable insulin law is dismissed

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America filed the lawsuit the day before the Alec Smith Affordable Insulin Act went into effect.

It looks like the insulin bill everyone agrees on won't get passed

An apparent clerical error has caused the issue, and a blame game has ensued.

insulin-2110059_1280

On day MN's new insulin law goes into effect, drug group sues to stop it

The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act goes into effect July 1.

insulin unsplash

Bill capping insulin copay costs passes, MN's Republicans all vote against it

The Affordable Insulin Now Act would limit copay costs to $35 a month, max.