Bill to lessen cost of insulin unanimously approved by panel

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Legislation that would give cost relief to diabetics in Kentucky who need to buy insulin won unanimous approval from a House committee on Thursday.


The bill, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, a retired pharmacist and pharmacy professor at Ohio University, would limit the co-pay for insulin to $100 per month.


“In Kentucky, we have over 500,000 people with diabetes,” he said.  “There are probably another 25,000 to 30,000 people who don’t know they have diabetes.”


He explained why he is seeking relief in the cost of insulin.

“In the last 14 years, the price of insulin has increased 550 percent.  That’s a big gain in just over a decade.  The British medical journal ‘Global Health’ said the average price to produce a vial of insulin is close to seven dollars,” with patients spending $3,600 a year.


Charlotte Whittaker with AARP Kentucky gave a startling statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “The high price of insulin can lead some patients to begin rationing their diabetes medication.”


She told the committee, “Prescription drugs don’t work, if you can’t afford them.  And access to affordable prescription drugs like insulin is a top priority for older Americans.”


Her bottom line: “No Kentuckian should be forced to choose between putting food on the table or buying a life-saving medication.”


Mary Beth Lacey of the American Diabetes Association also testified on behalf of the bill.  She said, “Many people with diabetes need insulin to live and to avoid devastating complications.  They include blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, heart attack, stroke, and even death.”


Lacey noted some states have passed similar legislation.  “Colorado enacted the first-in-the-nation insulin co-pay cap law last year, and Illinois filed suit when the governor signed legislation in January.  Kentucky could, and should, continue this momentum.”


The measure won unanimous approval and now heads to the full House.


While it only deals with health insurance co-pay costs, Bentley has introduced other legislation that would put a cap on insulin costs for those who pay cash or are on Medicaid or Medicare.


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The legislation is House Bill 12.  

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