Gov. Walz signs insulin affordability bill into law

Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz signed an insulin affordability bill approved by the Minnesota Legislature into law.

The bill is known as the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, named after 26-year-old Minnesotan Alec Smith who died in 2017 because he couldn’t afford his insulin and rationed it.

The legislation will allow access to a 30-day supply of insulin for a co-pay of $35, and uninsured, under-insured and those receiving Medicare will be eligible. The legislation is also expected to streamline affordable insulin in the long-term and either get manufacturers to participate in the program or fine them for non-compliance.

Tuesday, the bill passed by a vote of 111-22 in the House and 67-0 in the Senate.

Minnesota Legislature passes insulin affordability bill

“Congratulations to all of you, thank you for all you’ve done,” Walz said to advocates and lawmakers during a video conference Wednesday morning after signing the bill into law.

“This is an important first step,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added.

"My deepest thanks goes out to Governor Walz and the Minnesota legislature for working with us to move Alec’s bill forward. And I’m incredibly grateful for all of the advocates and supporters who have fought tirelessly to pass this legislation," said Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec’s mother. "Without them, we would not be here today. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that every person with diabetes has access to affordable insulin, and this bill is a huge step forward toward reaching our ultimate goal of affordable, accessible insulin for all."

According to the governor’s office, over the last 10 years insulin manufacturers have tripled the price of insulin, and one in four diabetics report rationing insulin. The Minnesota Department of Health also estimated in 2017 that 7.8% of Minnesota adults, or about 330,000 people, had been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes with about 18,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.