House, Senate leaders reach agreement on insulin affordability bill

Minnesota House and Senate leaders announced Wednesday that they’ve agreed on insulin affordability legislation.

The Insulin Conference Committee said it approved the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which will provide emergency insulin to Minnesotans who need it most. Smith died because he couldn’t afford his insulin and rationed it.

The issue had been at the top of lawmakers’ agendas before the COVID-19 pandemic but had stalled as Republicans and Democrats tried to sort out their differences.

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Lawmakers said the bill could be passed as soon as Tuesday when the Legislature is scheduled to return to the floor. Lawmakers are on recess starting Wednesday evening due to the Easter and Passover holidays.

The committee said the bill 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 under the bill. The legislation will also streamline affordable insulin in the long-term and get manufacturers to participate in the program or fine them for non-compliance.

“Our family is grateful for the hard work and dedication from members of the Minnesota Legislature who have worked hard side-by-side with the MNinsulin4all advocates to finally create a bill that will save lives,” said Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec’s mother, and James Holt. “Alec’s death has led us down a path that will ultimately lead to saving the lives of others who are in an emergency situation. Our deepest gratitude goes to those who believe in our mission. Thank you.”

“I am gratified that Representative Howard and I were able to get this across the goal line with unanimous support of the conference committee,” said Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska. “I would like to thank Senate Majority Leader Gazelka and Speaker Hortman for providing the traction needed to achieve this goal that will serve all Minnesotans.”

“My focus over the past 15-plus months has been to get to agreement on a bill that will help those who struggle to afford their insulin and are facing life-threatening consequences due to the extremely high costs they face,” added Sen. Melissa Halverson Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington. “The agreement we have reached in the conference committee report will help those in urgent need of insulin and assist others who need an affordable solution for a longer term.”