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Rep. Howard, Sen. Murphy introduce legislation capping co-pays for prescription drugs on life-saving medications

Thursday, February 17, 2022

St. Paul, MN - Today, Representative Michael Howard (DFL - Richfield) and Senator Erin Murphy (DFL - St. Paul), introduced legislation capping co-pays at $25 per month on state-regulated health plans for prescription drugs and medical supplies that treat chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma. This legislation will also cap the cost of medical supplies such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Legislators said this plan represents a positive and necessary step in the ongoing fight for affordable prescription drugs.

“Minnesotans with chronic conditions always face the high stress of affording their life-saving medication, and that has only been magnified during the pandemic,” said Rep. Howard. “This bill recognizes that all actors in our healthcare system have a role to play in making prescription drugs affordable and is a reasonable step that puts patients first.”

The bill would focus on helping Minnesotans who suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and severe allergic reactions - notably capping insulin, asthma inhalers, and EpiPens at $25 a month. The listed price of these medications have soared over the past decade, putting incredible stress on Minnesotans to manage their health. More than 400,000 Minnesotans have been diagnosed with asthma and more than 500,000 Minnesotans have either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.

“Not one Minnesotan should face a situation where they are unable to fill a life-saving prescription because of cost,” said Sen. Murphy. “If big pharma would rather put profits over people, then we must take action to ensure Minnesotans can afford their essential medications.”

The bill would also cap co-insurance for medical supplies that give patients the best options to manage their chronic conditions. Medical supplies like glucose monitors and insulin pumps can cost patients several hundred dollars, forcing them to consider less expensive and less effective methods to manage their diabetes. Capping the cost of these supplies at $50 will help ensure cost for supplies is not a factor for patients when choosing the best method to manage their care.

In 2020, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, providing access to affordable insulin on an emergency basis to any Minnesotan who needed it. Howard said a cap on co-pays for insulin is part of the unfinished business of that legislation to ensure an adequate safety net and affordable access to insulin for all Minnesotans.

The bill is supported by the Minnesota Insulin 4 All chapter as well as the American Diabetes Association.

"It should not be a reality that in the wealthiest country in the world we have people with chronic illnesses that cannot afford basic healthcare to keep themselves alive,” said Quinn Nystrom, Chapter Co-Leader of MN Insulin 4 All, type 1 diabetes for 23 years. “We need to continue fighting together for people like myself who rely on insulin and other supplies."

“Until there is federal legislation in place to cap the cost of prescription drugs, we need states to step in and create bills to make life saving medications affordable,” said Nicole Smith-Holt. “I believe this bill will help many people in Minnesota afford their lives. Not only will it help make prescriptions more affordable but will also help type 1 diabetics afford the supplies needed to maintain a healthy life.”

Twenty states from across the country have passed some form of insulin co-pay caps. You can view a link of those states here.

The bill, HF 3592 has been referred to the Commerce Finance and Policy Committee.