POLITICS

More States Pass Limits On Monthly Insulin Prices Amid Rising Costs

The life-saving drug's high prices have led to dangerous insulin rationing and financial strain.

In the face of rising insulin prices, several states are making it a priority to ease the financial burden on patients.

On Wednesday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed into law a bill that caps insured patients’ copays and out-of-pocket expenses for the drug at $25 for a 30-day supply — the lowest threshold among state-level insulin caps.

“This law ends an unacceptable dilemma for thousands of New Mexicans with diabetes forced to choose between life-saving insulin and other expenses,” she said in a statement.

On Friday, bills capping insulin price limits passed in two states. The Virginia Senate passed a bill with a threshold of $50 for a 30-day supply — slightly higher than the $30 initially proposed by Del. Lee Carter, who authored the bill. Meanwhile, a bipartisan bill in West Virginia capping the cost at $100 a month passed the state Senate. Both bills will now head to governors Ralph Northam (D) and Jim Justice (R), respectively.

Colorado became the first state to cap insulin prices, setting a $100 monthly limit in May 2019, with Illinois following suit in November. This year, similar measures have been proposed in a number of other state legislatures.

Between 2002 and 2013, insulin costs nearly tripled. A 2017 report from the Health Care Cost Institute found that prices rose sharply again between 2012 and 2016, with the average price for a vial reaching $666. Prohibitive out-of-pocket costs have led diabetic patients, who require the drug to regulate blood sugar, to ration it, in some cases leading to deaths. Others have gone to extremes to obtain insulin at an affordable price, organizing caravans to Canada, where prices are cheaper.

Carter said that he introduced the Virginia bill after reading reports of individuals with health insurance dying after rationing insulin.

“The significance of this legislation simply cannot be overstated,” he told HuffPost in an email. “When it goes into effect next year, it will save lives.  Period.”