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Senate approves Manar plan to cap insulin costs

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate today approved an initiative to rein in the soaring cost of insulin for diabetes patients.

Senate Bill 667, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would cap co-payments for insulin at $100 per month for all patients regardless of the supply they require. The cap would only apply to commercial insurance plans regulated by the state.

“Illinois families deserves to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved ones do not have to choose between putting food on the table and buying their prescription medication,” Manar said. “The Senate just took a step toward making that a reality.”

The price of insulin has drastically increased in the United States in the past several years. According to a 2016 analysis, the price of the drug tripled between 2002 and 2013.

1.3 million Illinoisans are living with diabetes and rely on insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. Price increases have left many of them struggling to pay for the drug and at risk of deadly consequences.

According to a study by the Yale School of Medicine, one in four patients with diabetes are forced to ration their insulin due to soaring costs.

“For over a million Illinois residents, insulin is an absolute necessity. Without it, they will die,” Manar said. “Pharmaceutical companies are leveraging that fact in order to maximize profits. It’s time we hold them accountable.”

If it becomes law, the measure would make Illinois the second state in the country to cap insulin payments.

SB 667 now moves to the Illinois House for consideration.

Manar’s colleagues who supported the measure released the following statements today:

Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park): “If you have diabetes, insulin is not optional, and no one should have to worry about how they will afford their next prescription.”

Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs: “For years, the pharmaceutical industry was virtually unchecked in their efforts to increase profit margins on this drug, and, as a result, working families have struggled to pay for the supply they need. Legislators need to put people over the profit of corporations, and this legislation allows us to do just that.”

Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora: “Capping this cost ensures patients won’t be put at risk by skipping or rationing their insulin because of the price. We need to do more to stop the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and this is a step in the right direction.”

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria): “For those with severe diabetes, insulin is as necessary as the air we breathe. We have people being forced to make the impossible choice between food and housing or prescription medication. There shouldn’t be a choice to make in the first place.”

Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview): “Prescription drug companies have burdened diabetics and their families with prohibitive costs for too long. People have been forced to choose between paying their bills and getting the insulin they need. We are stepping up and putting a stop to the price gouging.”

Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin): “By putting this cap in place, we’re helping to ensure that the families who are struggling to pay for their lifesaving medication aren’t left in financial ruin because of their illness.”

Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Hills): “Drug companies know that diabetics and their families will pay virtually anything for the insulin they need, and they’re taking advantage of that.”

Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign): “Regular price hikes make insulin difficult to afford, and as lawmakers we have a responsibility to step in and protect the well-being of Illinoisans who depend on insulin.”

Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park): “Many families have been left to make an impossible choice: Doses of the medicine they need to survive on a daily basis, or their most basic necessities. That is no choice at all.”

Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago): “This is a matter of values. We need to value people over profits and ensure that everyone has access to the health care they need to survive.”

Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville): “African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and these prices of prescription insulin cost has seriously affected them. These drug companies are taking advantage of people who have no choice but to purchase insulin and this legislation will put to stop that.”

Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake): “By capping the cost of insulin, we’re protecting diabetics and their families. People are being forced to skip meals and to default on their mortgages just to afford doses of a drug they need to live. Prescription drug companies shouldn’t have that kind of power.”

Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago): “People are dying because of the outrageous markups in insulin prices, all so that pharmaceutical companies can squeeze every last dime they can out of working class families. That ends now. It’s time to stop putting profits over people.”

Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville): “People should not be forced to make a choice between their food or housing and medicine they need to inject to keep from dying. Increasing affordability so these choices don’t have to be made is the right thing to do.”

Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon): “This is the direct result of corporate greed and it’s time to stand up to drug companies that are lining their pockets at the expense of patients who rely on their products to survive.”

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood): “Families across Will and Kendall Counties should not have to choose between basic necessities and paying for life-saving prescription drugs. It is time for the state to intervene to ensure greedy corporations are not placing profits before people.”

Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs): “Individuals often have to start rationing the insulin they can afford, which can lead to further health complications and even more expensive health care costs in the future. We should not be treating diabetes in emergency rooms because people cannot afford their medications.”