Insulin: GOP, DFL must reach compromise

Published 5:30 am Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

More unites state DFL House leaders and GOP Senate leaders than divides on the matter of providing life-saving insulin to those who cannot afford it.

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So let’s not throw out the good in lieu of the perfect.

Senate Republicans unveiled their plan Thursday. Both parties are holding hearings next week. That’s a good start to what needs to be a commonsense compromise an issue that is a moral imperative for all of us.

The Republican plan would provide free insulin to those not on state or federal health care plans and who have income at or below 400 percent of the poverty level, or about $50,000 a year for a single person and $100,000 a year for a family of four.

Pharmaceutical companies would have to provide the insulin and the program would be administered through health care providers.

Republicans say the program could be implemented quickly without setting up a new bureaucracy and it would put nearly all of the burden of paying for the program on the pharmaceutical companies. The companies would not be able to do business in the state without participating in the program.

An insulin advocacy group, Insulin4all, said it appreciated the GOP plan but also said any plan in Minnesota must have provisions for emergency insulin distribution, which does not appear to be part of the GOP plan.

Democrats were also skeptical of the plan, saying it wouldn’t help patients get insulin in emergency situations if they couldn’t get in to see their doctors. Democrats have long pushed for a fee on pharmaceutical companies for this program and an opioids treatment program. The plan they pushed, which did not pass at the end of session last year, had pharmacists distributing the insulin and drug companies paying for it.

The Republican plan connects people to their doctors and may lead to a better management plan for diabetics. The Democratic plan would provide easier access to insulin.

In no small irony, the Republicans want the eligibility part of the plan to be handled by MNsure, the state insurance exchange Republicans have been trying to get rid of for years.

Still, it seems both sides are closer than they had been. Let’s hope outside money to either party does not influence what should be a vote to serve the interests of Minnesotans.

Gov. Tim Walz has been studying the plans and said he is willing to call a special session if it looks like Democrats and Republicans can come to agreement.

Walz should bring both sides together soon for what will be life-saving legislation for diabetics.