FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Andy Beshear and a bipartisan group of lawmakers want Kentucky to become the third state to pass legislation that would control the cost of insulin needed by diabetics.
House Bill 12, sponsored by Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, would cap the cost of insulin at $100 per month. He is joined by more than 70 House members who have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
“Something more must be done to help those suffering from diabetes so they can afford the life-saving medication that they require,” Beshear said during a Capitol press conference on Tuesday. “Every day, Kentuckians are losing their lives and permanently damaging their health because they cannot afford their daily supply of insulin.”
Beshear said Kentucky ranks seventh in the nation for diabetes prevalence. “According to 2020 numbers from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, one in seven Kentucky adults have diagnosed diabetes. (And) 158,200 adults are estimated to have diabetes but are not diagnosed. That’s on top of the one in seven, and makes 632,700 Kentuckians with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes”
He also noted that one in nine Kentuckians have diagnosed pre-diabetes, and an estimated 312,000 adults are not diagnosed. “We cannot turn our backs on helping our Kentucky brothers and sisters get healthier.”
Bentley says there are several other pieces of proposed legislation dealing with the issue. “We’re working on the costs, we’re working on awareness, and we’re working on trying to make people’s lives better.”
He added, “In eastern Kentucky, where I am from, diabetes is double digits and I’ve worked all my life as a community pharmacist to educate people about that.”
Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, is one of the co-sponsors of HB 12. She said her then 19-month-old son spent three days in pediatric ICU after being diagnosed with Type I diabetes and was in diabetic ketoacidosis.
As a result of her experience, she says she became the go-to person in her community, for those dealing with diabetes. “One of the things I heard over and over again was the expense. How can I pay for this? Why is this so expensive?”
Colorado was the first state to cap the cost of insulin, while Illinois passed legislation earlier this year.
“Insulin is not an option, you must have it to live,” said Sarah Ferguson of Insulin for All. “Rationing a liquid that costs six dollars to produce but costs $300 a vial. People in Kentucky are dying because they cannot afford insulin. Children are being removed from their homes and put in foster care, because their families cannot afford to take care of them.”
HB 12 passed a House committee last week and Bentley said it could come to a floor vote soon. “Wednesday is National Diabetes Awareness Day. Wouldn’t it be appropriate if we spoke to our leadership and had it heard then?” he said.