Insulin price cap among bills to pass Michigan house on Wednesday

A bill in Michigan that would cap insulin prices in the state has taken the next step into becoming a law. The house passed HB 4346, a bipartisan bill with 16 sponsors, by a 91 to 16 vote on Wednesday. If passed, monthly payments for insulin would be capped at $50 for Michiganders on state health care plans.

Representative Sara Cambensy filed the bill on February 24th as a part of a bipartisan, 15-bill, package that will make sweeping changes to Michigan health care. The representative, who is a Type-1 diabetic, spoke in support of the bill on the house floor, countering arguments that are often made against insulin cap bills:

“[There are] two major reasons I’ve heard for people that do not want to support this bill. The first argument is the cost of health insurance is going to go up for everyone. Well, we actually looked at Colorado, the first state to pass a bill almost identical to mine. When we looked at a review of the regulatory filings from insurance companies, many did not even mention the insulin gap as a factor in their health insurance calculations. In fact, many use the words negligible.

In Kentucky, that just passed the same bill, their legislative financial analysis was that it was estimated to cost zero to 80 cents per month.

Additionally, the second argument I hear only 10% of people in Michigan have this, why should it matter. Because diabetes is expensive. It’s 2.3 times [more expensive to manage] than those who don’t have a similar illness, meaning that those costs are spread out in health insurance plans to everyone. The total direct medical expenses for diagnosed diabetics in Michigan was $7 billion dollars. Nationwide, it was $327 billion in 2017.”

Representative Shri Thandedar, who has Type-2 diabetes, spoke in support of the bill as well:

“For too many Michiganders, paying for this life saving medication creates serious hardship. They are required to make tough decisions nobody should have to make, like rationing their insulin, a dangerous and potentially deadly practice. That is a perfect example of everything wrong with our healthcare system.

This legislation before us today could ease that burden by capping the copay for a monthly supply of insulin at $50. Increasing the affordability and accessibility of insulin could not only save lives, but it will save Michigan families from heart wrenching decisions like whether to purchase insulin or put food on the table.”

After passing the House, the bill will now be referred to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services committee.

Other bills that were apart of the same legislative package that passed through the House on Wednesday include:

  • HB 4345: Allows patients to purchase a covered prescription from an out-of-network provider if the costs are below the in-network average.
  • HB 4347: The Drug Manufacturer Data Reporting Act, which requires drug manufacturers to report manufacturing data to the Department of Insurance and Financial Services.
  • HB 4348: Which would force Pharmacy Benefit Managers that operate in Michigan to become licensed in the state and subject them to regulations.
  • HB 4349: Requires hospitals to post a digital version of their charge description on the internet for public viewing, which would increase hospital price transparency.
  • HB 4350: Only applies drug rebates to drugs if there is not a lower-cost generic version of the drug available.
  • HB 4351: Defines Pharmacy Benefit Managers are sets regulations on how they can act in the state.
  • HB 4352: Requires pharmacists to disclose generic prescription drug prices to patients and prohibits them from entering contracts with Pharmacy Benefit Managers to guarantee distribution of certain drugs.
  • HB 4353: Requires insurance providers to count drug rebates towards out-of-pocket expenses in a health plan.
  • HB 4354: Ensures that patients will have access to oral chemo medications and that they will not pay higher copayments or deductibles than they would for other types of cancer treatments.
  • HB 4355: Allows out-of-state providers to provide telehealth services in the state.
  • HB 4356: Allows patients to renew contact lens prescriptions online.
  • HB 4357: Prohibits gifts that drug manufacturers are allowed to give to physicians.
  • HB 4358: Prohibits insurance companies from removing a prescription drug from its offering in the middle of a plan year.
  • HB 4359: Expands the scope of practice for certified registered nurse anesthetists in the state.