Walz signs affordable insulin bill

By Brian Bakst

Minnesota now has one of the nation’s first programs to guarantee access to affordable insulin.

Gov. Tim Walz signed a compromise measure Wednesday a day after the Legislature passed it by wide margins.

After the law takes effect in July, people struggling to afford the medication will have access to 30-day supplies with a small co-pay. Those with deeper financial issues can tap into a long-term program. Drugmakers that don’t make affordable insulin available will face steep fines.

Walz said the law is a bright spot in a tough time and came from considerable negotiation.

He used a virtual signing ceremony to pay tribute to the work of those who saw the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act across the finish line. The legislation is named after a young man who died while rationing insulin in 2017.

After signing the bill Walz held up a personalized sharpie next to a can of Clorox wipes. He promised to get the pen to Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec Smith’s mother.

“I will be disinfecting this pen and getting it to you,” he said, a nod to the other health crisis front and center.

“I truly believe Alec was watching and working some magic to make this happen,” Nicole Smith-Holt said. “I often think of him as a sacrificial lamb in this situation. I think of him giving his life so that others could benefit. So that others could see that insulin affordability is truly a crisis and something must be done.”