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Group Fears More Insulin Rationing If MN Lawmakers Don't Act

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Advocates for diabetics worry that the skyrocketing cost of insulin is forcing people to ration their supplies. (Adobe Stock)
Advocates for diabetics worry that the skyrocketing cost of insulin is forcing people to ration their supplies. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
October 7, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Talks continue at the Minnesota Capitol on how to get insulin into the hands of those who need but can't afford it.

The average insulin price has risen 55% since 2014, according to research from GoodRX.

Minnesota lawmakers are trying to address the price hikes, but the GOP-led Senate and the DFL-led House have different views on the best approach.

For the Minnesota Chapter of T1 International, a group that advocates for people with Type 1 diabetes, Kim Munson is policy and legislative director. Munson warned that, if lawmakers fail to agree and take a vote in special session, waiting until the regular session next spring could be devastating.

"First off, we will know more people will be rationing their insulin," she said. "My biggest fear would be that we will see another death, like we did over the summer with Jesy Radcliffe, a boy who died over the summer –
when just a month before, the session ended and a bill did not pass."

She was referring to 21-year-old Jesy Scherer-Radcliffe, a Minnesotan who lost his life in July. His family attributed the death to his rationing of insulin.

Minnesota GOP leaders are pushing a proposal that calls on drug makers to provide free insulin supplies for up to a year for those who meet income requirements. DFL lawmakers want to allow emergency supplies without a waiting period to determine eligibility.

While policymakers wrangle with these options, Munson pointed out that diabetics are trying to let the public know how serious a health crisis this has become. She credits the steady price increases in recent years for prompting them to speak up.

"There's now this community where, when we hear of a death, we are asking questions," Munson explained, "whereas maybe before, we didn't know to even ask those questions."

The situation has also caught the attention of federal lawmakers. Both parties in Congress have vowed to bring down costs, and committee hearings last spring put the spotlight on pharmaceutical companies. Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate, but the future of those bills is uncertain.

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