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Washington State moves to cap insulin costs

Washington State is moving to keep out-of-pocket costs of insulin at $35 per month until Jan. 1, 2025.

“For people with Type 1 diabetes, this bill is literally life or death,” said Matthew Hepner, the father of a child with diabetes in support of SSB 5729.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, passed unanimously through the Senate and moved to the House of Representatives Feb. 28. It requires insurers to cap the patient share of the cost for insulin.

In 2022, legislators passed Keiser’s previous insulin bill, which also capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month. That bill is scheduled to expire on Jan. 1, 2024.

Although intended to be temporary, Congress passed legislation in 2022 to control the cost of insulin at the federal level, but Congress did not extend the deadline to the following years.

“I had hoped that Congress would have ensured insulin would be affordable for all Americans by now, but Washington State won’t wait on D.C to act,” said Keiser. “Insulin is a lifesaving medication that we’ve been using for more than 100 years. It’s very cheap to produce, and there’s no reason that anyone who needs it should be struggling to afford it.”

A year ago, Hepner was in Seattle Children’s Hospital with his only daughter. Her blood sugar reached extremely high levels, and she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Hepner says her fight became his fight.

“I have seen the Legislature and this committee do remarkable things, and it can do them now by extending this bill to fully cover insulin for those under the age of 21. We can remove the fear and the stress of insulin coverage, so families don’t go into massive debt to keep their kids breathing,” said Hepner, a member of the East Wenatchee City Council.

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