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Legislators Introduce Insulin Pricing Bill Package

Bills include Insulin Affordability Act to cap drug prices
October 31, 2019
Democratic Newsroom

Today, State Sen. Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus) and state Rep. Dr. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) announced a package of bills to address insulin pricing and increase awareness of diabetes prevention tools.

“Families are struggling with the cost of insulin and young people are dying. Medically, we can prevent this,” said Liston. “We need policies that make it possible.”

The bicameral package of legislation includes:

  • The Insulin Affordability Act to cap the price of insulin provided by health plans at no more than $100 for a 30-day supply (sponsored by Sens. Craig and Nickie J. Antonio, D-Lakewood, and Reps. Liston and Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus)
  • Requiring the Ohio Attorney General to analyze and provide recommendations about insulin pricing practices based on information from drug manufacturers, health plan issuers, pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacies (sponsored by Sens. Craig and Antonio and Rep. Liston)
  • Designating April 26 as “Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) Day” (sponsored by Sens. Craig and Antonio and Rep. Liston) 
  • “Screen at 23,” a resolution encouraging Asian Americans to be screened at a BMI of 23 kg/m2 as opposed to the current practice of 25 kg/m2 (sponsored by Sens. Craig and Antonio and Reps. Liston and J. Todd Smith, R-Farmersville)

“The skyrocketing cost of insulin has made it difficult for many Ohioans to afford treatment and stay healthy,” said Craig. “Every day there are diabetics who are forced to choose between life-saving medication and feeding their families or paying their bills. By making insulin more affordable, we can save lives.”

Insulin prices nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016, and approximately 30% of diabetics have rationed the life-saving medication due to cost. This poses significant public health risks and economic concerns to Ohioans. Ohio has a higher incidence of diabetes than other states and one in four diabetics in Ohio are considered to be in poor control of their disease.

“The cost of insulin is unacceptable and out of reach for many Ohioans. We do not want to see another tragic story of a young person with their life and future taken away because their only option is to ration their insulin,” said Antonio. “As legislators, we must institute policies that ensure the well-being of all Ohioans living with diabetes, and I believe we can be successful with this legislative package.”

Kathryn Poe, who stood with lawmakers as they announced the legislative package, temporarily became a Type 1 diabetic because of a bone marrow transplant in July 2018.

“I put the Insulin in my fridge and simply forgot about it until a couple of days later, when I came across an article about a 26-year-old young man in Minnesota who had died from rationing insulin,” said Poe, a grassroots organizer for #Insulin4AllOH. “I realized that the very same drug that he couldn't afford was sitting downstairs in my fridge, a whole month’s supply never to be used. I was horrified.”

Antroinette Worsham has also been instrumental in advocating for affordable insulin. Her oldest daughter, Antavia, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 16 and passed away in 2017 from diabetic ketoacidosis.

“She started rationing her insulin in 2016 when she aged off Bureau for Children of Medical Handicaps,” said Worsham. “Still, with my employer-covered plan with the high deductible and copays, insulin was still too expensive. My son, her brother, found her deceased in her bed. My son was 17 years old at the time. How detrimental is that to happen to any family?”

Gary Dougherty, Director of State Government Affairs with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), said the ADA worked on the recently passed Colorado co-pay cap law and is committed to supporting the Insulin Affordability Act.   
“Right here in Ohio, more than 4.3 million Ohioans have or are at risk for diabetes,” said Dougherty. “For those who require insulin to live, the cost has spiraled out of control and, for many, is beyond their reach.”

For video of the press conference, click here