A new Illinois law caps insulin prices for those with state-regulated insurance plans, but some lawmakers are saying that is not enough and more needs to be done to address prescription drug prices.
In January, Illinois became the second state in the country to cap insulin costs. The law caps out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 per month, but only for people covered by a state-regulated insurance plan. That covers about 20% of the plans available in the state. As a result, many Illinoisans still pay much more for insulin.
State Rep. Will Guzzardi, the sponsor of the law, said he’s heard stories about what he calls miscommunication around the question of what it means to be state-regulated.
“You may have seen reports in the media of people who saw that this bill took effect on January 1st of this year and raced down to the pharmacy to get their prescription filled and found out that their plan wasn’t covered by the cap and they’re still paying these high prices,” Guzzardi said.
During the House Prescription Drug Affordability and Accessibility Committee hearing Thursday, testimony focused on Utah’s efforts on this problem. The state now has a law that gives residents a rebate upfront for insulin, regardless of their insurance. The sponsor says it is helpful to people with high deductibles or no insurance at all.
In 1921, insulin was introduced to the market for the first time. Production started when pharmaceutical manufacturers took insulin from cattle and pigs to dispense to humans. In 1978, scientists discovered that E. coli bacteria could be used to produce insulin, making it safer and a pricier product to distribute.
State Rep. Joyce Mason said in addition to insulin, the committee needs to address the price of other prescription medications, noting that her mother was told by her doctor to go to Canada for medications.
“She shocked and surprised, and even more so shocked and surprised when she realized how much more affordable it was for her,” said Mason.
The committee plans to meet again next week.