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Donovan, Colorado Senate advances insulin bill that hits home for Roberts

June 3, 2021, 3:36 pm

The Colorado Senate on Thursday passed a bill to increase access for Coloradans who rely on insulin for their diabetes — a followup to 2019 legislation that capped the price of insulin at $100. Bringing down the cost and increasing access has been a top issue for state Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and state Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon.

State Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle
State Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon

Roberts has fought hard on the issue since being appointed to the legislature, citing the very personal story of his brother, Murphy, who suffered a diabetic seizure and eventually died.

Donovan sponsored the most recent bill in the Senate, and it now goes to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis for his signature. Here’s a press release from the Colorado Senate Democrats:

Today, Senate Democrats gave final approval to legislation to ensure that all Coloradans who need it have access to affordable insulin – a life-saving policy in response to egregious price hikes perpetrated by big pharma. 

HB21-1307, sponsored by Senators Kerry Donovan and Sonya Jaquez Lewis, increases access to insulin by clarifying that the current $100 cap on a person’s monthly insulin supply applies regardless of the number of prescriptions a person may have. Furthermore, it allows eligible consumers to access one emergency prescription insulin supply for no more than $35 per 12-month period. 

“Over the past ten years, insulin costs for patients in Colorado have skyrocketed,” said Sen. Kerry Donovan (D- Vail). “Those price increases have very real and severe consequences – in 2020 nearly 74,000 Coloradans who rely on insulin for diabetes, reported rationing their medication, or fasting to manage their blood sugar because they couldn’t pay for their prescription. Big pharma is concerned with their profits, while patients for whom insulin is like oxygen, suffer. In Colorado, we are saying no more. This bill means immediate access to insulin for everyone who needs it in every corner of the state.”    

“Insulin is a necessary, life-saving drug that should be accessible to all diabetics regardless of income,” said Senator Jaquez Lewis (D-Boulder County). “As a  Pharmacist, I have seen the pain in people’s eyes when they can’t afford their medications – forced to choose between providing for their family and caring for their own health. It’s time that we prioritize people over corporations and ensure that everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status, can access the prescriptions they need.”

The bill also creates the Insulin Affordability Program in the Division of Insurance to help eligible individuals obtain prescription insulin for $50 a month for 12 months. The findings of an investigation conducted by the Colorado Attorney General’s office released in November 2020, found that over 40% of Coloradans using insulin rationed their medicine due to cost and that over 37% use expired insulin to stretch their supplies due to high costs.

Despite the success of HB19-1216, the landmark 2019 bill that established the $100 price caps on insulin, many diabetics with employer-sponsored plans or those without insurance coverage have fallen through the cracks, especially throughout the pandemic. This bill will help fill in the gaps and ensure that everyone, regardless of insurance coverage, has access to affordable, life-saving insulin.

The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. To read the bill and find updates regarding its status, visit leg.colorado.gov.

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