Diabetes is the leading cause of mortality in the Bronx and in 2019, data showed that the borough had eight out of 10 community districts with the highest rates.
One elected official has seen these horrifying numbers and is trying to curb the statistics. Senator Gustavo Rivera, chair of the Senate Health Committee, introduced a bill this week as part of his Insulin for All package. This legislation will further reduce the cap on cost-sharing for insulin from the current $100 per type of insulin per month to just $30 per month.
This new measure builds on the important step taken by New York to enact a $100 cap on each type of insulin per month during the 2020-21 budget. Yet, people with diabetes often rely on two or three different types of insulin, which could result in a $200 to $300 out-of-pocket monthly expense.
“The high cost of insulin is putting the lives of diabetic New Yorkers at risk, especially of those who are financially strained,” Rivera said. “While we took a very important first step during this year’s budget, it is certainly not enough. This bill, along with the rest of the Insulin for All legislative package, will make insulin more affordable and accessible for diabetic New Yorkers, while moving New York State in the right direction.”
This legislation caps insulin copays and deductibles to $30 per insulin per month, which is more in line with similar measures initiated by several states across the country to address insulin prices. For example, Utah recently adopted a $30 copay cap, while states such as New Mexico, Virginia, California and Connecticut are all in various stages of passing and adopting copay caps ranging from $25 to $50 per insulin type.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the average cost of insulin tripled in less than a decade and New Yorkers with diabetes face medical expenses approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. Consequently, this has led to patients rationing the small amount of medication they can afford.
However, complications from rationing can result in amputations, diabetic ketoacidosis and even death. The cost of insulin is not related to advances or changes to the drug, only to enhance profit margins in this country, despite drastically lower prices in other countries for the same products. To further increase access to affordable insulin to diabetic New Yorkers who are insured, underinsured and uninsured, Rivera sponsors two other bills under his Insulin for All package:
- 6492A: Ensures access to insulin for New Yorkers by creating a drug assistance demonstration program and allowing for emergency refills of expired prescriptions in certain cases.
- 7771: Creates an Emergency Insulin Program so uninsured or underinsured New Yorkers can get analog insulins at certain pharmacies when in need.
Karlynn Holland, chapter leader of New York Insulin4all, praised the senator.
“New York #insulin4all applauds the work of Senator Gustavo Rivera’s Office to ensure that insulin, a life-saving and life-sustaining medication that costs just dollars to make, is affordable to every New York state resident who needs it to live during this exceptional time,” Holland said.