New Bipartisan ‘Emergency Access’ Bill Introduced to Lower Insulin Costs


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Democratic Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota announced Thursday the rollout of a bipartisan bill to bring down insulin prices. The legislation features the set-up of an emergency insulin assistance program, which would be funded in part by a fee imposed on insulin manufacturers who raise prices more than 10 percent in a year. The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.

June 27 marks the two-year anniversary of the death of Alec Smith, a 26-year-old from Minnesota who died when he rolled off of his parents’ insurance and couldn’t afford his insulin in between paychecks. His mother has since become a major advocate for insulin affordability, inspiring Senator Smith’s decision to draft this bill.

“For the millions of people in the United States who rely on insulin, the medication is not a choice; it’s a matter of survival. Patients should be able to afford the medication they need to live,” said Sen. Smith. “Our bipartisan bill would do what’s right—promote competition and make sure lower-cost insulin comes to market sooner rather than later.”

Smith says the price for insulin doubled between 2012 and 2016. This bill would see federal grants allotted specifically to create state-by-state assistance programs for insulin access. The bill comes at a time when legislative scrutiny on insulin pricing is at an all-time high. Last month, Colorado passed a bill effectively putting a price cap on insulin, becoming the first state to do so.

“I am pleased to join Senator Smith in proposing a short-term emergency access solution to assist those in need as we pursue a more permanent fix to this problem,” Sen. Cramer said in a statement.

Cramer cited that 50,000 North Dakotans with diabetes are insulin-dependent, but increasing costs see his constituents finding it harder and harder to afford the life-saving drug. According to the bill, about 30 million Americans have diabetes, including 7.5 million who require insulin to survive.

“This is a bipartisan effort to help families get access to insulin when they need it in an emergency,” Sen. Smith said. “And it’s to say to the big insulin manufacturers whose prices have been going up and up and up, we want you to help pay for this emergency insulin.”

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WRITTEN BY Jordan Dakin, POSTED 06/28/19, UPDATED 11/10/22

Jordan recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles after earning her BA in English and film studies. She is a passionate storyteller, traveler and lover of people and hopes to use her experience working in tech and as a writer to advocate for the BT1 community. In her spare time, she also enjoys hiking, karaoke and cooking for friends. Check her out on Instagram: @jordanemilydakin.