Mike Moen, Prairie News Service
In the national quest to help people with diabetes deal with the skyrocketing costs of insulin, North Dakota lawmakers are weighing in, as a bill to cover public employees has cleared its final legislative hurdle.
A recent Yale study noted for 14% of people who need the lifesaving drug, insulin costs consume at least 40% of their income.
This week, the North Dakota House sent the governor a bill to limit out-of-pocket costs for a 30-day insulin supply to $25 for people in the Public Employees Retirement System.
Rep. Carrie McLeod, R-Fargo, called it an important move to protect the health of many residents.
"Insulin has become so expensive in recent years that patients requiring insulin are rationing their insulin at less than their provider prescribes, because they cannot afford the drug," McLeod explained.
North Dakota's public worker's retirement system has more than 50,000 members. Bill supporters say patients across the state are being squeezed by monopolies in the pharmaceutical industry. Opponents worry manufacturers could end up charging the state more money. It is unclear if Gov. Doug Burgum will sign the measure.
In response to concerns raised by opponents, McLeod noted the issue will be up for debate again in two years.
"We'll have better data at that time to know if this is a good thing to do or not," McLeod pointed out. "I really ask you to give this a chance."
During the next legislative session, the state would have the option to expand the cap to all patients, while deciding whether to extend the one for public workers. McLeod added more than 20 other states have adopted similar policies.
The federal Inflation Reduction Act includes an insulin cap for Medicare enrollees.