We have a story on the front page today that is beyond alarming for a nation that has the most advanced health care system in the world.
The story details how people are struggling to afford insulin. It is believed hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians need insulin, but getting it these days can be brutal.
In one instance cited in the CNHI Kentucky story, mother-of-three Jamison Rogers — who works for the federal government — has had to ration doses of insulin to be able to afford formula for her kids and even reused one-time usage needles in an attempt to save money on the additional $50 cost.
“I sacrifice for the boys needs, I don't want to take from them,” she said. “It’s hard as a mom to be a financial medical burden on your kids.”
State Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, also a pharmacist, is the sponsor of HB 105, which is pre-filed to be introduced in January. He told CNHI he hopes to establish “requirements for a covered prescription insulin drug shall not exceed one hundred dollars ($100) per thirty day supply of insulin, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill the covered person’s prescription.”
"This proposed a $100 deductible for 30 days for people who are on normal insurance and capping it so that the ordinary person can get it,” Bentley said. “The price has increased exponentially in the last 10 years. Some are rationing (their insulin) and trying to spread it out and they are dying from not having enough.”
Bentley's bill says insulin prices rose by 45% between 2014 and 2017, and over the last 14 years, the price of insulin has increased by 550%.
The Financial Times reported two weeks ago that Americans are having trouble accessing Eli Lilly's half-priced insulin drug Lispro. The story said most pharmacists don't even know it is available. CNBC reported last week meanwhile that Eli Lilly confirmed a probe by the New York Attorney General over insulin price increases.
And, there is this from The Washington Post:
"Last week, the Trump administration announced steps to allow states to import lower-priced medication from Canada — a plan that could include insulin, officials said. A few days earlier, Sen. Bernie Sanders joined a group of people with Type 1 diabetes on a bus from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, where they found insulin sold for a tiny fraction of what it costs in the United States."
Sanders is calling for an investigation into collusion by drug companies.
These price hikes for insulin are simply shocking. Completely unacceptable. We credit Mr. Bentley for getting this legislation out there and we encourage the state of Kentucky's General Assembly to pass this immediately.
The federal government needs to do everything possible to address this issue through regulatory means. We also have yet another example of how our current health care system and private sector drug pricing mechanisms are clearly not working.
This, of course, matters to those who need insulin in what can amount to a life or death endeavor.