Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed a bill to cap the costs of prescription insulin copays at $50 per month, one of the lowest caps in the country. This will give Virginia the country’s fourth lowest insulin cap.
House Bill 66, sponsored by Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, originally aimed to cap the costs of prescription insulin copays at $30 per month. By the time the bill passed the Senate, the cap was amended to $50 per month.
“For people that have diabetes, they tend to be on anywhere from five to eight medications. So even if they have good health insurance, paying copays anywhere from $5 or $10 per prescription adds up very quickly,” said Evan Sisson, professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy and vice-chairperson of the Virginia Diabetes Council. “So to be able to cap [insulin] is a huge benefit for patients.”
The Virginia Department of Health estimated in 2017 that 631,194 or 9% of Virginians have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
“This bill is aimed at providing relief for those folks who have health insurance but can’t afford to use it, that is a vast swath of Virginia’s population,” Carter said during a Senate committee hearing.
Insulin prices have risen so much in recent years that some diabetics have resorted to rationing their insulin or traveling to Canada where the drug is much cheaper.
According to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, approximately 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes, with that number increasing by about 1.5 million every year.