HEALTH

Lawmakers look to curb cost of insulin, diabetes treatment

Nov 20, 2019, 1:37 PM
diabetes treatment insulin...
Representative Norm Thurston spoke at the state capitol Wednesday, November 20, about proposed legislation that would lower the overall cost for diabetics. Photo: John Wojcik

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Enough is enough, patients and lawmakers say. Utah lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol to discuss ways to curb the cost of treating diabetes and the inflating price of insulin, which has now reached astronomical numbers.

Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, is leading the charge to introduce several bills for the 2020 General Session that would mitigate some of those costs.

First, he wants to see health insurance cover diabetes in their preventative tier.

“That means their enrollees get insulin with no co-pays and no deductibles,” he said.

To make that happen, he says it can’t just be a political effort.

“Employers should ask, ‘Can that be a benefit for my employees?'” he said. “‘I have an employee with diabetes, it’s important to me they stay healthy so they can work.'”

His other ideas, he says, are more outside-the-box. Specifically, he highlighted a first-of-its-kind statewide bulk-purchasing plan for diabetes medications like insulin.

“It doesn’t have rebates, it doesn’t have coupons, it doesn’t have deductibles,” said Thurston. “It just has insulin at this price.”

He says it may be a bit of a longshot to get that hashed out in the General Session since there’s no other state that has implemented a similar system, but nonetheless, he believes it’s a possible creative solution to the problem.

“It’s really complicated,” admitted Thurston. “I’ve been working on it for several months now, it’s not an easy thing to figure out.”

According to information cited at the press conference, more than 200,000 people in the state live with diabetes.

Those individuals have health care costs more than double the national average. That means it costs Utahns more than $1.8 billion every year.

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