Governor Walz worked tirelessly with insulin advocates to call attention to this urgent issue, keep up the pressure, and get this important bill passed through the legislature
4/15/2020 10:03:16 AM
[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz today signed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act to provide relief to Minnesotans struggling to afford their insulin. With the price of insulin tripling over the past 10 years, Governor Walz worked tirelessly with insulin advocates to call attention to this urgent issue, keep up the pressure, and get this important bill passed through the legislature.
“Minnesotans should not die because they are forced to choose between putting food on the table and affording the drug they need to survive,” said Governor Walz. “Despite resistance from the pharmaceutical industry, the grit and determination of Minnesotans with diabetes, Minnesotans who have lost loved ones with diabetes, and their legislators moved this bill forward. It is downright inspiring. This hard-fought law will provide much-needed relief to Minnesotans struggling to afford their insulin. We must continue to put Minnesotans first and ensure people don’t struggle to afford the care they need.”
The bill contains emergency and long-term components, which take effect on July 1, 2020. Under the legislation, eligible individuals in urgent need of insulin can go to their pharmacy once in a 12-month period and receive a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 co-pay. There is an option for some applicants to receive a second 30-day supply in certain cases. Manufacturers must reimburse pharmacies for the insulin they dispense or send them replacement insulin at no cost.
The long-term program requires manufacturers to provide insulin to eligible individuals for up to one year, with the option to renew annually. Insulin will be available in 90-day increments for a co-pay of no more than $50.
“This is an incredible accomplishment. Big Pharma was defeated by the passion and tireless hard work of the advocates and legislators who got this done,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Lobbyists and corporations were no match for a friend’s concern, a legislator’s determination, and above all, a mother’s undying love.”
Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan have been actively involved in the legislative process to pass Alec’s bill. In October, 2019, they sent a letter to legislative leaders urging them to hold a conference committee to reconcile difference between the House and Senate bills. Later that month Governor Walz and young Minnesotans with diabetes called on Senate Republicans to come to the table to negotiate a deal. In November, Governor Walz called for public hearings and emphasizing his willingness to call a special session. He also discussed solutions for insulin affordability with advocates and health professionals and in January worked with legislators to introduce compromise legislation.
“My deepest thanks goes out to Governor Walz and the Minnesota legislature for working with us to move Alec’s bill forward. And I’m incredibly grateful for all of the advocates and supporters who have fought tirelessly to pass this legislation. Without them, we would not be here today,” said Nicole Smith-Holt, whose son Alec died in 2017 from rationing his insulin. “We still have a lot of work to do the ensure that every person with diabetes has access to affordable insulin, and this bill is a huge step forward towards reaching our ultimate goal of affordable, accessible insulin for all.”
Over the last 10 years insulin manufacturers have tripled the price of insulin, and one in four diabetics report rationing the life-saving drug. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health estimated that 7.8%, or around 330,000, Minnesotan adults had been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, with around 18,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.
“Alec’s Law is our commitment to Minnesotans that never again should anyone lose their life because they can’t afford the insulin they need to survive,” said Rep. Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield), House author of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. “I am eternally grateful to the Smith-Holt family and insulin advocates that delivered this 'David versus Goliath' victory. Stiff opposition from Big Pharma would not stop this mighty group of Minnesotans in our mission to save the lives of Minnesotans.”
The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act is named for 26-year-old Alec Smith, who was unable to afford the $1,300 monthly cost of insulin and diabetes supplies and died rationing insulin after aging out of his parents’ insurance.
“This insulin bill is a wonderful example of how Minnesotans can move politicians beyond partisan gridlock. Congratulations to all Minnesotans and a special thanks to the energized activists who, truly, made a difference,” said Sen. Scott Jensen (R – Chaska), Senate author of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act.