The Minnesota House and Senate appear to be moving closer to a compromise on the issue of insulin. Gov. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) says, “I’m super optimistic.” Both legislative chambers have held hearings on new versions of bills, even though the legislature is not in session.
The State Attorney General Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) is also investigating price fixing by pharmaceutical companies and he opened the House hearing by saying, “The fullness of this room proves this is a pressing concern.” Crowds packed the venue, including grass-roots activists from the Insulin4All group populated by families affected by diabetes.
It’s still not an easy issue. One Republican lawmaker called out Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) for posting a video about going to Walmart, an approach called reckless. Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), who has diabetes added, “People have died trying that solution.”
Concerned the new bill will increase insulin prices, Munson responded, “I came to the Capitol to lower healthcare costs.”
“The price of this vial of insulin has skyrocketed,” declared House bill author Rep. Michael Howard (DFL-Richfield). He joined us live on Almanac to further explain his bill.
The next step, said Gov. Walz, is a conference committee for the House and Senate to work out differences on insulin access on the way to a possible special session. He is pleased that the Senate came up with a proposal and definitely sees progress. Walz had hoped for a special session this fall, which only he has the power to convene.
“It was not a smooth landing session. This is one of the most important issues that didn’t get addressed,” reminded Senate bill author Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) at an earlier hearing. Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) added, “Nobody should have to die from this.”
“None of us wants to die or be rationing our insulin,” emphasized Quinn Nystrom from Insulin4all. Someone has died rationing insulin since the failure of the legislature to act: His name is Jesy, his godfather Ianin St. James tearfully told lawmakers, “It’s called an emergency insulin bill because people need it in an emergency.”
Earlier this year, Almanac political reporter Mary Lahammer examined the insulin issue through the lens of those who need it most: men, women & kids diagnosed with diabetes. The skyrocketing cost of the drug leaves many to make tough decisions. Read all about how “Life-Saving Insulin Is a Must-Have for Twin Teens.”
Behind the scenes of a live broadcast of Almanac at the Minnesota State Fair, the state’s top three legislators met backstage and renewed their commitment to work together across the aisle on key issues such as the rising cost of insulin. Discover more about the other issues over which they’re hoping to find common ground.