CONCORD — The head of an advocacy group for people with Type 1 diabetes called a “great first step,” a proposed cap on how much health insurers can charge a month for patients to get insulin.
State Rep. Garrett Muscatel, D-Hanover, and Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, announced Tuesday they were filing this bill for the 2020 session that would set a price ceiling patients would have to pay of $100 for a 30-day supply.
Brittany O’Donnell of Chichester leads the New Hampshire chapter of “T1 International,” an advocacy group started in the United Kingdom with 30 state chapters in the U.S.
O’Donnell said she once had to ration her insulin because of the cost.
“Any baby steps whether it is getting this bill or others passed is huge for us,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a great first step.”
The sponsors said their bill is modeled after a law recently adopted in Colorado.
“Over seven million Americans rely on insulin to treat diabetes. While the cost of producing insulin has not changed, manufacturers have artificially skyrocketed the price in recent years to increase their profits,” Muscatel said. “Diabetics need insulin to survive, and recent price spikes have forced many to ration or skip doses, often with tragic consequences.”
Feltes, a 2020 Democratic candidate for governor, said the measure is overdue.
“Every day New Hampshire families are impacted by the absurdly high cost of insulin. Parents should never be forced to choose between the health of their child and their financial security,” Feltes said. “This legislation will give Granite Staters with diabetes the peace of mind they need and deserve by reducing the costs to obtain life-saving and life-sustaining insulin.”
O’Donnell said the Colorado law’s cap only applies to those with health insurance so it doesn’t offer financial relief if you lack coverage.
She had to ration insulin after she turned 26 and came off her parents’ health insurance policy.
“They were trying to charge me $350 for my one-month supply,” O’Donnell recalled. “I bought one vial, found a coupon for it and ended up having to uset the coupon and still pay $125 for the other vial.”
O’Donnell has since gotten married and said she has good health insurance but diabetics must stay educated and aware about the “loopholes.”
“You end up learning the loopholes. For some reason they will code your insulin so it is covered or not covered,” O’Donnell said.
“My insurance changed preferred insulin three years ago to a brand I didn’t respond well to so I had to get my doctor to write a prior authorization but the insurer still charged more because it wasn’t preferred. There are tough loopholes to the whole system and not many people have the time to learn all of them.”
In Washington, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, proposed last summer the Insulin Price Reduction Act that would return insulin to the price it was in 2006 by holding pharmacy benefit managers and insulin makers responsible for keeping prices down.
This bill would waive the deductible for insulin products that met pricing requirements.