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Rep. Howard’s legislation capping co-pays on medication treating chronic pain clears first House committee

Monday, February 13, 2023

St. Paul, MN - Today, The House Commerce Finance and Policy committee advanced legislation, House File 348, capping co-pays on medication treating chronic pain at $25 per one-month supply. The bill, authored by Rep. Michael Howard (DFL – Richfield), also caps co-pays on medical supplies at $50.

“The last few years have shown that the Minnesota Legislature can work in a bipartisan manner to reduce the cost of medications Minnesotans need to survive and thrive. This bill is the next logical step,” said Rep. Howard. “This bill primarily deals with three chronic illnesses, all of which have medication and supplies that have skyrocketed in price. Whether it’s diabetes, asthma, or severe allergies, Minnesotans with chronic conditions are struggling with the weight of affording their life-saving medication. It’s time all actors in our healthcare system play a role in putting patients first and making prescription drugs affordable.”

The bill focuses on helping Minnesotans who suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and severe allergic reactions - 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.

The bill also places a $50 cap on 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 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. More information on Minnesota’s insulin safety net program can be found here

The bill is supported by the Minnesota Insulin 4 All chapter as well as the American Diabetes Association. 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 was referred to the House Health Finance and Policy Committee on a voice vote. Video of today’s hearing can be found on the House Public Information YouTube page