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Capped: Washington sets permanent price cap at $35 per month for insulin

by REBECCA PETTINGILL
Staff Writer | April 3, 2023 6:02 PM

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5729 Thursday, which ensures that Washingtonians with diabetes will continue to pay no more than $35 a month for insulin.

“This legislation isn’t a perfect solution — I had hoped that Congress would take action to ensure insulin is affordable for all Americans,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), sponsor of the bill. “But by keeping costs down for people with diabetes, this price cap is going to save lives in Washington.”

In 2020, the Senate passed legislation also sponsored by Keiser to cap the out-of-pocket cost for insulin at $100 a month, a release by Keiser’s office stated. Then, in the 2022 legislative session the legislature passed a similar bill that capped insulin costs to $35 a month but had an expiration date of Jan. 1, 2024. The release stated that the cap had an expiration date because it was intended to be a temporary solution until the federal government passed legislation to control the price of insulin at the federal level.

This year’s bill, SB 5729, removes the expiration date, so that out-of-pocket expenses for a 30-day supply of insulin will be capped at $35 permanently.

According to the Centers for Disease control, more than 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it. The CDC also states that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and may be underreported.

A release by Eli Lilly and Company on March 1, the day after the bill passed the Senate, said the company will cap out-of-pocket costs at $35 at participating retail pharmacies for people with commercial insurance using Lilly insulin. People who don't have insurance can continue to go to InsulinAffordability.com and download the Lilly Insulin Value Program savings card to receive Lilly insulins for $35 per month.

Keiser said she has met with representatives from Eli Lilly many times and has asked for this exact accommodation.

“I have to say it's been a long time coming because this has been a long running issue, but I think they have made the right move,” Keiser said.

Keiser said Eli Lilly is one of three major insulin manufacturers in America and she is very pleased that the company has made the necessary changes to make insulin affordable.

“Insulin is a lifesaving drug that was developed a century ago,” said Keiser. “In Canada, you can get it for $5. But in our country, it can cost hundreds of dollars. That means people die because they can’t afford insulin.”

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