Colorado has become the first state in the nation to pass legislation combating the increasing price of insulin. The prices, for some, are so high they have to either ration their supply or forgo other necessities to pay for insulin.
Last week, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a new bill into law that caps the cost a person covered by insurance is required to pay for prescription insulin to $100 per one-month supply of insulin.
House Bill 1216 also requires the department of law to investigate the pricing of prescription insulin drugs and submit a report of its findings to the governor, the commissioner of insurance, and the judiciary committees of the senate and house of representatives.
The bill appropriates $26,054 to the department of regulatory agencies for use by the division of insurance for its implementation.
Prime sponsors for the bill are Rep. Dylan Roberts, Sens. Kerry Donovan, and Kevin Priola.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) applauded Gov. Polis and bill sponsors, Roberts, Donovan, and Priola, for their leadership on this important legislation.
“With the prices of insulin nearly tripling between 2002 and 2013, people with diabetes often face financial hardships affording their insulin,” commented Dr. LaShawn McIver, senior vice president of Government Affairs & Advocacy in a statement.
“Thank you to Governor Polis, Representative Roberts, and Senators Donovan and Priola for this legislation and their continued efforts to protect the more than 400,000 Coloradans living with diabetes,” he added.
The historic bill especially hits home to Rep. Roberts, who lost a brother, Murphy Roberts to Type 1 diabetes in 2016. He was 22 years old.
Roberts tells dLife the passage of this bill is a humbling victory for him, his family, and all the diabetes activists he has been working with for the last two years.
“My first ever bill as a legislator was about lowering insulin costs and it did not pass but we did not give up; we refocused and worked really hard to make this bill turn into a law.”
Roberts says he definitely thinks this bill will get traction in other states as well.
“I have already had countless advocates and even legislators from other states reach out to me and ask how they can get this process started in their state,” says Roberts. “As state legislatures move into their 2020 sessions, I will be happy to work with anyone to help get bills ready to go.”
The lawmaker says there are also next steps with the Colorado bill as well: The first part of the bill is the co-pay cap and that takes effect on January 1, 2020.
Roberts says part two of the bill might even be more promising: it directs the Attorney General of Colorado to investigate insulin pricing and prepare recommendations for what to do next.
“We still need to get at the fundamental problem of high insulin costs and having his legal team investigate and make specific suggestions for future legislation and/or legal action will be very important,” Roberts emphasizes, “So we are definitely not done. We won’t stop until everyone has access to the insulin they need.”
As far as his message to other states and representatives, he recommends that every legislator find out whether their state is going to take action on insulin/prescription drug costs soon.
“If there aren’t plans already, then they should be the one that does,” Roberts adds. “This is an issue that impacts millions of people across the country, regardless of your political party or what state you call home.”
He encourages states to use his bill as a model or to work with advocacy organizations within the state to come up with their own bill.
“I also would call on the U.S. Congress to act as well,” Roberts says, “pharmaceutical companies are large national and international companies, so the real solution has to come from our federal legislators and the President.”
For more information about this legislation, individuals can e-mail Rep. Roberts’ office at firstname.lastname@example.org.