Minnesota Senate Republicans announce Insulin Patient Assistance Program

Minnesota Senate Republicans unveiled the Minnesota Insulin Patient Assistance Program today, a new plan to provide access to insulin for Minnesotans unable to afford the high cost of this life-saving medicine. The program requires insulin drug manufacturers to provide insulin to Minnesota doctors on behalf of their eligible patients. To qualify, Minnesotans with diabetes must have a family income less than 400% of the federal poverty level and not be covered by another state or federal healthcare program such as Medicare, Medicaid, or MinnesotaCare. 

A key provision in the Republican plan requires patients to work through their doctor’s office to acquire free insulin from the manufacturers, fostering stronger doctor-patient relationships that will improve care. Patients will use the MNsure web portal to receive an eligibility statement for the program that can be brought to their doctor’s office. MNsure will have five days to determine eligibility for diabetes patients. 

Doctors will use the patient eligibility statement to order a 120-day supply of insulin from the preferred manufacturer. Patients remain eligible for the program for one year and are allowed to reorder insulin during that time. 

“This is a simple, workable plan that delivers insulin to the people in Minnesota who are currently priced out of the market,” said Senator Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), the author of the legislation. “The reforms we passed in the 2019 session lowered the price of insulin for many, but not all Minnesota diabetics. This plan will help thousands of families struggling to pay for the high costs of insulin through no fault of their own.”

Senate Republicans passed several measures to lower the costs of insulin and all prescription drugs during the 2019 session:

  • Emergency refills: The HHS Omnibus Budget bill required pharmacies to provide emergency access to insulin and other life-saving drugs even if a prescription runs out. Pharmacists can now fill up to a 30-day supply of insulin for patients even if their prescription is not current.
  • Transparency in insulin pricing: The HHS Omnibus Budget bill required Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to communicate regularly with all pharmacies the cost for prescription drugs including any rebates or discounts available from a drug manufacturer.
  • Lower prices for consumers: The HHS Omnibus Budget bill required health plans to lower the price so it does not exceed the net price of the prescription drug, meaning the health plans cannot make a profit on the sale of insulin.
  • Reinsurance: Passing an extension of the reinsurance policy stabilized the individual and small group insurance market and allowed the major insurance plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield to offer insulin at prices Minnesota families could afford.

“This legislation provides access to insulin for Minnesotans in a manner that strengthens the doctor-patient relationship, something we know will improve care across the board,” said Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “The plan also brings the drug manufacturers to the table and says, ‘If you want to do business in Minnesota, you have to help us make insulin available to all families in need.’”

“The Minnesota Insulin Patient Assistance Program can be implemented quickly and serving Minnesota families in a matter of months,” added Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa). “We look forward to working with House Democrats and Governor Walz to get this done.”