The cost of insulin has tripled in the last 10 years, putting a burden on thousands of Minnesotans, while the three insulin manufacturers that control more than 90% of the U.S. market have been raking in record profits. In the 12 months from September 2018 to 2019, the three companies reported $84.1 billion in revenue and $18.5 billion in profits.
DFL lawmakers have had a plan for an emergency insulin program and a longer-term affordable insulin assistance program ready since early 2019. The program would offer up to a three-month supply of insulin with a maximum copay of $30 to those who cannot afford the drug and establish a longer-term assistance program for those who qualify. It would be paid for partially by the state, but largely through a new fee on insulin manufacturers. And yet, Senate Republicans have continued to reject asking manufacturers to pay to support an emergency insulin access program in Minnesota.
Rather than considering asking big pharma to pay for the problem they’ve help create, Republicans presented a bill to the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee this week that provides a partial assistance program funded entirely by taxpayers. Fewer patients would qualify under the Republican proposal, the emergency program would only offer a 60-day supply, and the copay would be $75 per 30-day supply. This program also would expire in 2023, meaning diabetics would be facing uncertainty again in just a few years. Senate DFLers offered an amendment to require insulin manufacturers – not taxpayers – fund the program, but Republicans refused to accept the idea once again.
DFL lawmakers know urgent action must be taken to address the epidemic of patients rationing insulin because they cannot afford the life-sustaining drug. DFLers have been working with their Republican colleagues and advocates June to find compromise and have adopted several changes in order to find a swift, effective resolution. However, asking taxpayers to pay the full cost of a problem that only exists because of profit-hungry drug companies is not a real option. (SF 3019)