Sen. Andy Manar and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

(The following op-ed from Senator Andy Manar has been published recently in The Telegraph and the Springfield Journal-Register)

This summer, my colleagues and I traveled the state to talk to regular citizens affected by the skyrocketing cost of insulin, a crippling financial burden for thousands of families in Illinois, and to garner support for legislation to make Illinois the second state in the country to cap the price of insulin. We knew it would be a tough fight against powerful special interests, which is why grassroots supporters from all across Illinois who spoke up against the abuses of the pharmaceutical, pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), and insurance industries were so critical.

This month, the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans in the legislature came together and approved Senate Bill 667, which caps the price of insulin at $100 per month, sending a clear message that our state will no longer allow the industry unfettered profiteering that takes advantage of people living with diabetes by charging exorbitant prices for life-saving insulin.

Make no mistake: this landmark moment would not have happened without the brave individuals who stepped up and shared their stories and the ordinary people, of all ages, in every corner of the state who picked up the phone to tell their legislators to support the bill.

At a time when public trust in the democratic process is dwindling and wealthy special interests seem to have an increasingly firm grip on public policy outcomes, the passage of Senate Bill 667 is a clear reminder of what regular people can achieve through grassroots advocacy.

Grassroots advocacy isn’t simply a feature of our democracy. It’s a fundamental pillar of a government designed to work for all of its citizens.

Ordinary working-class people don’t have deep networks of lobbyists in the Capitol looking out for our interests. Our influence lies in our collective voice, and it’s up to us to demand change when the status quo is no longer working.

While Senate Bill 667 is a monumental step forward, the cost of insulin is only one small piece of a deeply flawed prescription drug industry that is set up to maximize profits at the expense of working families. We must follow the example of Senate Bill 667 and continue the fight to ensure that all Illinois families, not just those with diabetes, are never again forced to ration or go without life-saving medication.