General Assembly taking steps to control insulin prices

General Assembly taking steps to control insulin prices
Depending on the type, insulin can cost hundreds of dollars or more per vial. (Source: WHSV)

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The Virginia General Assembly is taking steps to bring down the cost of insulin. HB 66 passed the House of Delegates with bipartisan support on Monday.

It would mean health insurance companies and other carriers wouldn't be able to charge more than $30 for a 30-day supply. Essentially, a person with insurance would never have to pay more than that amount out of pocket to buy their "covered prescription insulin drug."

Dr. Nelly Maybee, an endocrinologist at Augusta Health, said getting needed insulin can be very costly, but it is necessary.

"Diabetes is not easy to treat, whether its type one or type two, and insulin is an integral part of treatment," said Dr. Maybee.

Mark Robertson, a pharmacist at Fishersville Family Pharmacy, said it is difficult for some patients in the valley to get the treatment they need.

"You've got patients that are on fixed incomes, patients that are Medicare, Medicaid patients, they can't do it," Robertson said. "That's just not part of the regimen they can afford on a daily basis."

Dr. Maybee said when patients can't afford insulin, they may ration or skip doses, which can lead to health concerns.

"That affects the overall control of diabetes, that leads to complications, that leads to hospitalizations, overall increase in healthcare costs and decrease in quality of life," Dr. Maybee said.

Both Robertson and Dr. Maybee said its important to bring down the cost of insulin.

"There's no question that insulin is one of those medications that should not be as expensive as it is," Dr. Maybee said.

She added when patients can take their insulin as needed, doctors don't have to spend as much time helping them find affordable insulin. Instead, they can spend more time on their care.

The bill still has to pass the Senate and be signed by the governor before becoming law.

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