The cost of insulin has increased 555 percent over the last fourteen years

(Mar. 20) – The House Health and Insurance committee approved Rep. Dylan Roberts’ bill to reduce the price of life-saving insulin for people with diabetes in Colorado. Over 420,000 Coloradans have diabetes and an additional 20,000 Coloradans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

“You wouldn’t imagine that such a small vial of medicine could have such a large impact on someone’s life, but for people with Type 1 Diabetes, insulin is the same as oxygen. You need it everyday to survive,” said Rep. Roberts, D-Avon. “This is a life-saving and life-sustaining drug, and we need to make sure that everyone who needs it isn’t forced to choose between their life and their other expenses. The skyrocketing cost of insulin is outrageous and it is literally putting people’s lives at risk.”

HB19-1216 caps the total co-pay that patients will pay for insulin to $100 per one-month supply, regardless of how much insulin is being dispensed. This is down from an average out-of-pocket costs of $600-900 per month, which Coloradans currently face.

“This bill is a targeted and modest step at trying to solve the much larger problem of prescription drug pricing but it will make a huge difference for Colordans with diabetes and their families,” continued Rep. Roberts.

The bill also directs the Colorado Attorney General’s office investigate business practices, organization, pricing, and data of pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, insurance carriers, and any other entity that influences insulin costs and create a report that explores possible legislative solutions. The report will be submitted to the governor, the commissioner of insurance, and the judiciary committees of the House and Senate in 2020.

“It should never be a parent’s job or a kid’s job to think about the cost of this life-saving medicine,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, who is the only medical doctor in the legislature. “The game is rigged, and it’s not rigged for the patients. Kids are paying for this with their fingers, toes, kidneys, hearts and with their lives. If we have to have the Attorney General look at a report, if we have to pass bill after bill, then let’s do it. Because the alternative is to tell Colorado’s children they can’t afford to pay for this medicine to help them deal with their chronic illness.”

The annual medical cost related to diabetes in Colorado is almost $4 billion. Almost 18 percent of that cost, roughly $700 million, is for prescription insulin to treat diabetes.

The cost of insulin rose by 45 percent between 2014 and 2017 and by over 700 percent over the last twenty years while the actual product of insulin has not changed in any significant way since 1996. One-in-four type-1 diabetics report rationing their insulin due to the high cost of the drug.

HB19-1216 passed the House Health and Insurance committee by a bipartisan vote of 9-2 and now heads to the House Appropriations committee.

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