Senate passes Murray bill limiting insulin copays

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STATE HOUSE – The state Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Melissa Murray to limit insured patients’ copays for insulin used to treat diabetes to $40 for a 30-day supply.

“Insulin is both very widely used and absolutely critical to the lives of people with diabetes, many of whom are seniors or disabled people living on low fixed incomes. Unaffordable insulin costs are a serious threat to public health. According to the American Diabetes Association, about a third of the approximately 100,000 diabetes patients in Rhode Island use insulin, and a quarter of those patients ration their insulin,” said Murray, who represents District 24 in Woonsocket and North Smithfield. “No one should have to choose between paying for their life-saving medication, keeping their lights on, or having enough groceries. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate for taking that action today.”

The legislation – 2021-S 0170A – is part of the Senate’s prescription drug affordability legislative package, and would apply to all insurance plans that cover insulin. Under the bill, insurers would be required to cap the total amount that any covered person is required to pay for covered insulin at $40 for a 30-day supply, regardless of the amount or type of insulin prescribed. It also forbids that coverage from being subject to any deductible. The bill does allow insurers to charge less, if they choose.

Proponents note that the cost of insulin has risen sharply in the last several years, and the cost is much higher in the United States than in other countries.
Millions of Americans depend on insulin for the management of diabetes.

The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, is cosponsored by Sen. Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey; Sen. Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller; Sen. Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin; and Sens. Tiara Mack; Valarie Lawson; Meghan Kallman; Samuel Bell; Bridget Valverde and Gayle Goldin.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where House Speaker Pro Tempore is sponsoring companion bill H 5196A.

Update: The House approved a companion measure (2021-H 5196Aaa) sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy. Each bill now goes to the other chamber.

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