If passed, this legislation would enact the lowest insulin cap in the nation.
There has been no shortage of stories lately highlighting the tragedies that can unfold when diabetics can't get access to their medications, often because of the high cost associated with it. For many people living with diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2), insulin is literally a life-saving drug. Tragically, there have been several cases where people (regardless of age) couldn't afford enough insulin when they needed it, and they died as a result. But the Virginia General Assembly took steps this month to protect their citizens from this very scenario.
House Bill 66, which was sponsored by Del. Lee Carter, originally set a monthly cap of $30 for out-of-pocket costs for the drug. This would have been the lowest cap in the nation by far. An amendment to the bill in the Senate raised the cap to $50 per month, and the change was approved by the House of Delegates last week. Even at $50 per month, the cap is still the lowest in the nation currently.
Insulin prices have risen considerably over the last two decades, getting as high as $450/vial in 2016. According to a Washington Post article, nearly one in four diabetics admits to rationing insulin because of the high cost, a practice that can be deadly. Many pharmacies offer an older version of human insulin (as opposed to analog insulin) for far less, but many consumers simply can not switch. Switching to human insulin from analog can be an expensive process on its own (with testing supplies), and the insulin itself works very differently.
Ultimately there is also nothing stopping the pharmaceutical companies from raising the prices, even on this older version of the drug, which could put consumers at serious risk. That is the reason for this legislation. At its core, the bill is intended to help everyday people and keep them safe, and it is an important triumph. Once the governor signs it into law, it could lift a huge burden of cost off of many people who struggle to afford their insulin medication.
What do you think about this new law? Let us know in the comments.