State Legislature Considers Bill to Help Cap Costs for West Virginians with Diabetes
Living with diabetes is an expensive proposition. It is estimated that one in four health care dollars is spent on diabetes related issues. West Virginia took two steps forward in the 2020 legislative session to address high prescription drug costs for West Virginia families, both with bipartisan support:
- The legislature passed the “Requiring Accountable Pharmaceutical Transparency, Oversight, and Reporting Act” law which requires drug manufacturers and health benefit plan issuers who sell prescription drugs in West Virginia to provide cost information, changes in cost information, and prescription drug statistics to the State Auditor who will publish the data on a public website in June 2021.
- The legislature passed a private insurance insulin copayment cap of $100 per month.
With the data that will be reported thanks to the first new law, West Virginia will have the foundation to look at how our state can move forward to help consumers who face high and unjustified prescription drug prices. We will be talking more about this issue in future blogs.
Looking at copay caps for people with diabetes, the bill passed last year was a great victory. We thank Delegate Barbara Fleischauer (D - Monongalia, 51) for her tireless leadership on this bill. Delegate Fleischauer worked with an amazing group of folks with diabetes to educate legislators about the need to help West Virginians who struggle to afford the costs of managing diabetes. The original ask was for a lower copay on insulin but the legislative process always involves compromise – and it always leaves us the opportunity to “live to fight another day.”
Well, this year Delegate Fleischaur is teaming up with Delegates Matthew Rohrbach (R - Cabell, 17), Delegate Ric Griffith (D - Wayne, 19), and Delegate Jim Barach (D - Kanawha, 36) to take the next step to help West Virginians with diabetes by introducing HB 2708 on February 23.
HB 2708 will cap per month copayments in private insurance:
$25 for insulin
$25 for other diabetes-related drugs
$100 for all diabetes-related medical supplies and equipment
HB 2708 is currently assigned first to the Health and Human Resources Committee and then to the Finance Committee. Under West Virginia legislative rules, this bill must be voted on and pass both Committees by March 28 or the bill dies for this year.
We need your help! This week we need calls and emails to go into the Health and Human Resources Committee members.
A list of members and contact information is here. Calls into the Chairman of the Committee, Delegate Jeffrey Pack (R - Raleigh, 28) can be very helpful, but reaching out to all of the Committee members is important.
Members are especially influenced by folks who live in their district. And the most powerful advocacy is when you can tell a personal story about how this bill would help you, your family, or folks you know.
For a sense of the numbers of West Virginians with diabetes and the costs they face to manage their disease, see this great fact sheet on diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.
And to hear the personal story of one West Virginia woman with diabetes, Adrian, watch this video.