SAINT PAUL, MN— Today, the Minnesota Senate reconvened to pass emergency and ongoing insulin affordability legislation as well as additional COVID-19 response measures.
“Minnesota DFLers have worked tirelessly over the past year to pass an emergency insulin program that would save lives. Today, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act passed the legislature. While this was long overdue, I am proud we were able to come together to get this done. No Minnesotan should lose their life because they cannot afford a life-saving drug.” said Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent. “The additional COVID-19 measures we passed today will allow government to continue to function and serve Minnesotans across the state under new social distancing circumstances.”
A year after DFL legislators introduced the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, a bill to establish an insulin assistance program has finally passed. 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.
The additional COVID-19 measures passed today include changes to the open meeting law to allow conducting meetings via interactive television, a harmless error exception for wills, and aligning state statute with federal changes from the CARES Act that say testing and diagnosis costs are covered by Medical Assistance for uninsured individuals. The bill also waives requirements for marriage license applications allowing for applications to be accepted by mail, fax, or electronic filing and for examination under oath to take place over video or audio. It also provides funding to Second Harvest Heartland for the purchase of protein or milk products creating a farm-to-food bank partnership. This ensures the food bank can distribute critical food to Minnesotans, and agricultural producers can continue to distribute their products.