Roberts introduces bill to make insulin cheaper for underinsured and uninsured Coloradans

According to a November 2020 survey conducted by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, 40% of Coloradans who use insulin ration their supply of the medication due to affordability concerns. To help these Coloradans afford this high-cost, life-saving medication, Rep. Dylan Roberts is spearheading an effort to make prescription insulin more affordable for Coloradans with diabetes.

He introduced the bill in the House Health and Insurance Committee on Wednesday, whose members approved of the effort through a ten to two vote. It now awaits discussion in the House Appropriations Committee before it can face the full House floor.

 

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“Insulin is a drug that every person with Type I diabetes, and many with Type II diabetes, have to take on a daily basis just to survive. For them, it’s like oxygen … Insulin is actually one of the most — if not the most– egregious examples of the prescription drug cost crisis that we have in our country.”

Building off of existing state law capping the copay of an individual’s 30-day insulin supply to $100, HB 21-1307 aims to specifically reduce insulin costs for underinsured or uninsured Coloradans — which Colorado’s current insulin cap doesn’t do.

The bill would create an emergency access program for insulin through which these Coloradans would be able to get one 30-day supply of insulin from the pharmacy for $35 within a 12-month period.

It would also create a 12-month insulin affordability program that would allow eligible Coloradans to receive insulin prescriptions costing no more than $50 for a 30-day supply. Eligible individuals include those who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and can’t afford private insurance.

Individuals must complete a form — to be made available on the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPFS)’s website — that proves they meet the qualifications and are Colorado residents. They would then submit this form to a pharmacist, who would authenticate the application prior to dispensing insulin for the individual.

According to Roberts, the chemical composition of insulin hasn’t changed in years, yet the price of the medication has skyrocketed over time. The cost has risen from $90 per vial in the 1990s to over $300 per vial today, he said.

Taking inflation into account, today’s price of insulin — seeing as it’s the same drug as it was two decades ago — should only be $35 per vial, according to Roberts.

“… one in four Americans in our country ration insulin due to its cost. That is not right. Not in Colorado, in 2021. Not in the United States. We need to do something about it, and this bill is an important step toward ensuring that every Coloradan — no matter their income or insurance status — can have access to a drug that they need every single day to survive.”