After weeks of discussions between bipartisan members of the Insulin Work Group with no agreement, Gov. Tim Walz, and DFL legislators pre-filed compromise legislation to improve access to affordable insulin in Minnesota.
This commonsense legislation includes provisions Republicans put forward during negotiations and is ready to begin implementing immediately.
“The cost of insulin has tripled in the last ten years – raking in the cash for pharmaceutical companies while Minnesotans with diabetes are left scrambling to afford the drug they need to survive,” Walz said. “We have a solution to this crisis. Taking the best from both Democrat and Republican proposals, this compromise bill would increase access to affordable insulin, hold Big Pharma accountable, and is ready to be implemented. There’s no reason not to support it.”
The legislation pre-filed, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, ensures Minnesotans facing an emergency – those most in danger of rationing their insulin due to the high cost of the drug – have access to an immediate refill at their pharmacy. It builds upon the bill introduced last session by including a provision initially proposed by Republicans that creates a long-term program to provide eligible Minnesotans access to free insulin.
“We know the best solutions come directly from the community itself,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said. “That is why this commonsense legislation was created in partnership with Minnesotans who have bravely shared their struggles to afford insulin. Centered around patients, it creates a safety net to ensure Minnesotans can get the insulin they need at a price they can afford.”
“It’s been 673 days since House Democrats introduced the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, and Republicans are still prioritizing pharmaceutical companies over Minnesotans who need insulin,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “We remain committed to finishing this work as soon as possible. We have a proposal that provides emergency access, long-term affordability, and is ready to implement right now. It’s time for Republicans to agree to move ahead with this plan to ensure that no more Minnesotans lose their lives because they can’t afford the insulin they need to survive.”
Democrats said while progress was made during the closed-door negotiations, there was one area where Republicans would not budge; holding pharmaceutical companies accountable. Three insulin manufacturers control more than 90 percent of the insulin market in the United States. In the past 12 months, those three companies have reported $84.1 billion in revenue and $18.5 billion in profits. This legislation would place a small tax on insulin manufacturers to create an insulin affordability program and make pharmaceutical companies part of the solution for the crisis they created.