NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bipartisan bill in the Tennessee House would set a price cap on the cost patients pay for insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply.
State Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and State Rep. Jason Hodges D-Clarksville) said Tuesday they are sponsoring House Bill 1931.
“So many rely on insulin to survive and the cost has skyrocketed at an alarming rate in recent years,” said Hill. “That has forced many living with diabetes to ration or skip doses, sometimes with tragic consequences. That is unacceptable.”
The lawmakers said families should never be forced to choose between their health and their financial security.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to lower the price of insulin in the state of Tennessee,” Hodges said. “I’m happy to be a sponsor of this bill, particularly in this bipartisan manner because it affects people in all districts and all demographics across the state.”
Citing the Tennessee Department of Health, lawmakers said nearly 14% of Tennessee’s adult population – about 730,000 people - in 2018 was diabetic. That number represents a substantial increase up from 11 percent in 2011.
The disease also affects several children including 11-year-old Garrett Allen. Allen was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at just 20 months old. His mother, Sally Allen says thanks to technology Garrett has gone from 10 finger pricks a day to an insulin pump.
However, Allen says with her insurance it still cost her family thousands of dollar a year to cover Garrett's life -saving treatment.
"We have pump supplies, we have CGM supplies, we have test strips and all those things to go with it, it’s a very expensive disease," said Allen.
Allen is also the chairwoman of the Middle Tennessee Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, she says it's about advocating for fair drug prices and access.
"There has been kind of a price tag put on his life and on the lives as others," said Allen.
But some of the big pharmaceutical companies continue to come up with ways to extend the patents by making improvements to the medicine making it impossible for generic brands to copy the idea.
According to a release, another 570,000 adult Tennesseans were diagnosed with pre-diabetes in 2018.