More than a year after the DFL introduced the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, an agreement has finally been reached for an emergency insulin access program andongoing patient assistance programs. HF 3100 passed through conference committee with unanimous support from all ten conferees from the House and Senate. Conferees will sign the conference committee report electronically so the bill can be taken up on April 14 when legislators return from recess.
This bill aims to ensure no one dies from a lack of access to affordable insulin. Alec Smith died in 2017 at age 26, after being forced to ration his insulin due to the extremely high costs of this life-saving medication. Alec’s story has sparked a dialogue in Minnesota, putting a spotlight on the skyrocketing cost of insulin and the frequency with which Minnesotans must decide between rationing or going without this medication if they cannot afford it. While we wish an agreement could have been made sooner, the looming coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in numerous job losses and layoffs only reinforced the urgency of finding an immediate solution for Minnesotans who rely on insulin.
Senate DFLers were committed to making sure that insulin manufacturers who contributed to this crisis are held accountable by requiring them to provide insulin at no-cost to participating pharmacies for the emergency program and create or maintain patient assistance programs for ongoing assistance. Significant fines will be placed on any manufacturers who fail to comply with these requirements.
This is not a perfect bill. We have raised concerns on eligibility requirements that limit access to only those with a valid Minnesota ID, license, or permit, which may leave out many people needing emergency access. Advocates raised concerns on the 30-day limit of emergency insulin that would be provided and the income eligibility requirements for the long-term program. Nonetheless, advocates and legislators agreed this bill will save lives and provide long-awaited relief to insulin-dependent Minnesotans. (HF 3100)