- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - In a state beset by high diabetes rates, the Kentucky House passed legislation Wednesday to limit out-of-pocket costs paid by many Kentuckians relying on life-saving insulin supplies.

The bill cleared the House on a 92-0 vote and now goes to the Senate.

The bipartisan measure would limit out-of-pocket costs at $100 per prescription for a 30-day insulin supply. That cap would apply to people with commercial health insurance plans.

About 500,000 Kentuckians are diagnosed with diabetes. Gov. Andy Beshear has referred to diabetes as a health epidemic in urging lawmakers to send him the measure.

Insulin is used to keep people’s blood sugar at safe levels.

“This is needed for survival,” Republican Rep. Danny Bentley said Wednesday.

Bentley, the bill’s lead sponsor, has diabetes.

In the past 14 years, the price of insulin has surged by more than 550% when adjusted for inflation, he said. Some people with diabetes can’t afford insulin or ration supplies because of costs, the bill’s supporters said. Hardest-hit families pay more than $1,000 a month for supplies.

“This bill is an important step forward making sure that Kentuckians can live a gainful life, no matter the zip code or how much money they have in their pocket,” said Democratic Rep. Charles Booker.

Booker, who has diabetes, spoke emotionally about his battle with the disease and his family’s struggles to afford his medication when he was young.

“I thank God that I’m still here,” he said. “And I’m proud to vote ‘yes’ on this bill and to keep fighting to make sure we win insulin for all.”

Democratic Rep. Patti Minter said the bill is an “excellent start” toward guaranteeing that anyone in need of insulin can afford it. Her son Alex has diabetes.

“It is an excellent example of what this chamber can do when we are at our very best, when we work together across the aisle … to make sure that no one will have to lose limbs, lose kidneys, lose their lives to this disease,” she said.

Beshear joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to promote the legislation on Tuesday.

“Health care is a human right, but tragically right now there are far too many Kentuckians who are at risk of losing their life or permanently damaging their health because they cannot afford their daily supply of insulin,” the governor said.


The legislation is House Bill 12.

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