Walz calls for action on insulin affordability

Updated: October 17, 2019 06:51 PM

The rising cost of insulin has made it difficult for those who rely on the life-saving drug.

On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz called for immediate action to make insulin more affordable for Minnesotans. 


"I refuse to allow Minnesotans to forget about their neighbors who are dealing with a crisis in access to insulin," Walz said during a press conference Thursday. 

Last month, both the GOP and DFL laid out their plans. The Senate GOP called for drug manufacturers to provide free insulin for up to a year to diabetics whose income is low enough to qualify. 

House Democrats have focused on a 90-day emergency insulin supply for those who can't afford refills.

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Both plans are based on a bill lawmakers worked on but didn't pass last year named after Alec Smith, a 26-year-old uninsured Minneapolis man who died in 2017 of diabetic complications because he was rationing his insulin. 

During his press conference, Walz called for the House DFL and Republican caucuses to come together for a conference regarding the issue. 

"The deal has not come together, the uncertainty has gone on too long and insulin is not optional," Walz said. "People with diabetes cannot go a single day without insulin and those numbers should be telling." 

Walz added, "This is a situation where we now have a path forward, we have two competing plans. The way our system works is you come together, work out a compromise and you move that forward."

Two diabetes patients in their 20s appeared with Walz at his news conference and talked about their fears of how they'll afford insulin when they're dropped from their parents' insurance at age 26.

"Diabetes does not care what party you affiliate with," diabetes patient Alexis Stanley told reporters, "how old you are or what you do for a living. How many more days are we going to let pass until something gets done? How many more deaths is it going to take until we get access to emergency insulin?"

The cost for insulin has increased so much that people have traveled across the border.

This summer, a caravan traveled from Minnesota to Canada where people were able to get it for hundreds of dollars less.

Minnesotans form caravan to Canada to buy cheaper insulin across the border

Walz criticized Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka who tweeted that if the governor calls a special session he will "immediately" consider a Republican insulin bill, but didn't say anything about compromising with Democrats.

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