It’s a problem born of a tragedy, and one that all seemed to agree had an obvious solution. But a plan to provide insulin to those who cannot afford it was not included in the final budget negotiations between Democrats and Republicans at the Capitol.
Gov. Tim Walz says he would call a special session if all could agree on a bill to fund the program.
The issue has come to the forefront due to rising insulin prices that can be up to $400 per vial. The bill that failed was named after Alec Smith, a 26-year old man who rationed his insulin because he could not afford it and later died. His family has advocated for a bill to provide insulin to those in need.
The bill appeared to have bipartisan support at the Legislature, but the disagreement between Republicans and Democrats revolved around how the program would be funded. Democrats wanted a fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers and Republicans favored using health care access fund money that comes from taxes on health care providers.
Gov. Tim Walz held a roundtable on the subject Wednesday and urged legislators to “get the right people in the room,” and “work out the sticking points.”
That’s a reasonable request legislators should consider with some urgency, and there appears to be at least some movement. A bipartisan group of senators has been meeting on the issue.
A special session for this issue alone seems to best way to go. Bringing more controversial topics like bonding and health provider tax into a special session will only create the risk that nothing gets done again.
DFL and GOP leadership also need to de-politicize the insulin issue. It’s not helpful that DFL Majority Leader Ryan Winkler issued an inflammatory statement saying the GOP “sold out to Big Pharma.”
Everyone agrees there is an urgent need to approve an affordable insulin program or provide it to those in need at little or no cost. It’s a lifesaving decision that should be acted on quickly.