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6/3/2021 House passes Kennedy bill that would cap copays for insulin prescriptions at $40
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) that would limit copayments for prescription insulin.

The bill (2021-H 5196Aaa) would provide that health plans that provide coverage for prescription insulin drugs used to treat diabetes would only be allowed to charge up to $40 for a copayment for a 30-day supply of the drug.

“This legislation will assist many Rhode Island families that have struggled with the cost burden of paying for food, shelter and other necessities or for insulin,” said Representative Kennedy. “That isn’t just cost-prohibitive for those who need the drug, it’s disastrous both financially and medically for those who need multiple doses of insulin every single day just to survive. A growing number of people cite affordability as the reason they ration their insulin, with some reports of deaths due to insulin rationing. According to recent statistics, 7.9 percent of adults in Rhode Island have been diagnosed with diabetes, making this a widespread tragedy.”

Representative Kennedy worked extensively with the American Diabetes Association, along with health insurers and pharmacies to craft the legislation.

In 2018, 34.2 million Americans — or 10.5 percent of the population — had diabetes, with an additional 1.5 million Americans diagnosed every year. Beyond the sheer prevalence of the disease across the country, the costs of diagnosed diabetes have increased from $245 billion in 2012 to $327 billion in 2017, according to the American Diabetes Association.

As a result, at least 18 states have implemented some type of monthly copayment cap for insulin.

The pancreas of a person with Type 1 diabetes lacks the ability to make insulin. Insulin shots are the only way to keep blood glucose levels down in Type 1 diabetes sufferers. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Its complications, including heart disease, stroke, amputations, blindness and kidney disease, are both serious and expensive. 

Stephen Habbe, director of State Government Affairs for the American Diabetes Association, testified in favor of the bill, telling the House Committee on Health and Human Services, “By ensuring that insulin is affordable, people with diabetes are better positioned to manage their glucose levels to stay healthy and productive. By keeping insulin affordable, we can help keep people with diabetes out of the ER and the hospital, and away from expensive and potentially disabling or deadly complications.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, which has passed similar legislation (2021-S 0170A) introduced by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903