Lawmakers move to lower cost of insulin in state

By Leona Vaughn

WNPA News Service

Bringing down the cost of insulin for people with diabetes is the goal behind two Senate bills and one House bill have been passed by the Washington state legislature.

Senate bill 6087 and House bill 2662 both cap the cost of insulin for patients at $100 per month, while Senate bill 6113 appoints the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium as the single purchaser of insulin in Washington state.

“Currently, the cost of insulin is breaking budgets, threatening lives, and, in some cases, even costing lives,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, the primary sponsor for the two Senate bills.

According to a report by the Health Care Cost Institute, the amount of money spent on insulin by Americans with type 1 diabetes almost doubled between 2012 and 2016.

In Washington state, “those enrolled in the consumer driven health plan pay an average of $206 per month,” on insulin, according to the Senate Bill report on SB 6087.

Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, the primary sponsor of HB 2662, says her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year.

“Those children have to go to bed at night, and not just worry about the stigma of having a chronic disease … they worry about having the money to pay for medication,” Maycumber said.

Some lawmakers opposed the Senate bills because of uncertainty surrounding the reason for insulin price increases. Concerns were also raised by some insurance industry representatives on the effect the caps would have on premiums.

“We need to know what is happening that is increasing that cost to the extent that it is that’s making it impossible for people to pay those prices,” said Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville.

“This would do nothing but pass on these additional costs to other people paying the premiums,” Becker said.

HB 2662 would put a cap on insulin costs for only two years if put into effect.

SB 6087 and SB 6113 were passed by the Senate Tuesday, Feb. 18, with a vote of 34-14 and 28-20, respectively. HB 2662 was passed by the House Wednesday, Feb. 19, with a vote of 97-1.

Provisions in these bills would have to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee to take effect.

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