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Sat Sep 28, 2019, 03:29 AM

How helping diabetics stay alive became a partisan fight in Minnesota

How did insulin become yet another partisan proxy war in Minnesota?

Two legislative hearings this week raised that question (and a few others) as part of a dispute that has placed diabetics and their families in the middle of what is, in fact, a life-or-death issue: Insulin is needed to keep type 1 diabetics alive, but price increases have made it unaffordable to the under- and uninsured.

Yet even lobbying from diabetics and their families, especially from Nicole Smith-Holt and James Holt Jr., who lost their son Alec in 2017, hasnít been enough to shake free a plan to help the most desperate patients.

At the center of the impasse is another question: who should pay the relatively small cost of an emergency insulin plan, taxpayers or insulin manufacturers?

It was a question that was once thought to be resolved. Near the end of the 2019 legislative session, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate approved language that would, as the DFL-controlled House had already done, assess a fee on the pharmaceutical industry to pay for an emergency insulin plan. But the agreement somehow fell away during the end-of-session, behind-closed-doors negotiations, and the blame-casting began almost immediately afterward. Even an informal bipartisan work group, which also met in private, couldnít get around the funding impasse.

Read more: https://www.minnpost.com/state-government/2019/09/how-helping-diabetics-stay-alive-became-a-partisan-fight-in-minnesota/

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