After more than a year of hard work and negotiation, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act this week to create an emergency insulin access program and ongoing support programs. Governor Walz signed the bill into law shortly after. While we wish this could have happened sooner, Senate DFLers are pleased that many insulin-dependent Minnesotans will no longer have to decide between rationing or going without this life-saving medication.
Senate DFLers are incredibly thankful for the work of advocates across the state who worked tirelessly on this issue to make sure no one dies from a lack of access to affordable insulin. This bill is named after Alec Smith, who died in 2017 at age 26 after being forced to ration his insulin due to the extremely high costs. Alec’s story has sparked a dialogue in Minnesota and put a spotlight on those who lost their lives in the absence of a safety net program that this legislation provides.
The bill requires manufacturers to make insulin available for eligible individuals who are in urgent need of insulin by July 1, 2020. No individual in urgent need will pay more than a $35 copay. Each manufacturer also must maintain an ongoing patient assistance program for qualifying individuals. Pharmacies may charge up to a $50 co-pay for each 90-day supply issued under that program to cover processing and dispensing costs. Manufacturers that fail to comply face initial penalties of $200,000 a month, increasing to $600,000 a month after one year of noncompliance.
This is not a perfect bill and we know there is more work to be done, but Senate DFLers are thankful that some much-needed changes were made through negotiations in order to save lives and provide long-awaited relief to insulin-dependent Minnesotans, like reduced co-pays for the emergency access program and increased penalties on manufacturers who do not comply with the law. As more and more Minnesotans face financial insecurity during these unprecedented times, Senate DFLers will continue to fight to ensure that all Minnesotans can afford the medications they need. (HF 3100)