Legislative Updates

Diabetes Legislative Package

Craig, Liston Present Package of Bills to Combat High Insulin Costs


Sen. Hercel Craig (D-Columbus) and Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), joined by leaders from diabetes activism groups, held a press conference Thursday which delivered passionate testimony about the high cost of insulin and the toll it takes on Ohioans and their families. 

“The skyrocketing cost of insulin has made it difficult for many Ohioans to afford treatment and stay healthy,” said Craig. “Every day there are diabetics who are forced to choose between life-saving medication and feeding their families or paying their bills. By making insulin more affordable, we can save lives.”

Liston, a phsycian, announced a package of legislation to be introduced including the following:

- The Insulin Affordability Act which would cap the price of insulin provided by health plans at no more than $100 for a 30-day supply, sponsored by Craig, Liston, Sen. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus).

- Legislation which would require the Ohio Attorney General to analyze and provide recommendations about insulin pricing practices based on information from drug manufacturers, health plan issuers, pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacies, sponsored by Craig, Antonio and Liston.

- Legislation to designate April 26 as “Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) Day," sponsored by Craig, Antonio and Liston.

- “Screen at 23,” a resolution encouraging Asian Americans to get screened for diabetes at a BMI of 23 kg/m2 instead of the current practice of 25 kg/m2, sponsored Craig, Antonio, Liston and Rep. J. Todd Smith (R-Farmersville).

Liston said that for each of the bills presented she has at least one Republican co-sponsor in the House (except for the legislation to create DKA Day which she said she is confident has overall support). Craig said he is in talks with Republican leadership and will continue those talks. Liston also said she is working with the attorney general's office to make sure the legislation is feasible and would empower the attorney general's office to make changes if needed. 

Ohioans pay for the care of those with diabetes who cannot afford insulin when more serious health complications arise such as person's needing dialysis or even an amputation. The cost of health complications is much more expensive than prevention, Liston said. Liston also mentioned similar legislation had been passed in Colorado which had minimal financial effects on residents. 

Gary Dougherty, director of state government affairs with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), spoke in support of the legislation. He said the ADA recently worked to pass the Colorado co-pay cap law. 

Craig also discussed the disparity in the disease's effect on African Americans and low-income Ohioans in his opening statements. 

"In Ohio there are over 1.3 million adults living with diabetes, and more than 70,000 Ohioans diagnosed every single year. But this disease does not affect people equally across the board. There are stark differences in the rates of diabetes for Ohioans based on their race and their income. Black Americans account for 40 percent of deaths related to diabetes, although African American Ohioans account for 14 percent of Ohio's population. African Americans are 77 percent more likely to die from diabetes complications than white Ohioans, and Ohioans with a household income below $15,000 are 2.3 times more likely to have the disease than those who make more than $75,000," he said. 

Antroinette Worsham, CEO and Founder of T1Diabetes Journey Inc. and mother of Anatavia Lee-Worshman who passed away in 2017 from diabetic ketoacidosis, also gave emotional testimony in support of the legislation.

“She started rationing her insulin in 2016 when she aged off the Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps,” said Worsham. “Still, with my employer-covered plan with the high deductible and co-pays, insulin was still too expensive. My son, her brother, found her deceased in her bed. My son was 17 years old at the time. How detrimental is that to happen to any family?”

Story originally published in The Hannah Report on October 31, 2019.  Copyright 2019 Hannah News Service, Inc.

Ohio Legislative Updates

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