Correction: House Bill 4543 to cap insulin copays at $25 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration on Monday. An earlier version of this article on Feb. 4, 2020, stated it was moving to the full House of Delegates.
A bill to cap co-pays on insulin is moving onto the third of three House committee recomendations for consideration with a favorable recommendation from the House Banking and Insurance Committee.
House Bill 4543 proposes a $25 limit on the amount diabetics with insurance pay for insulin each month.
This is a much smaller cap than some created by other state Legislatures. In Colorado, the state Legislature agreed in 2019 to set a $100 cap for insured consumers.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a similar bill with the same cap as Colorado into law in January.
On Monday, some members of the House Banking and Insurance committee said they were reluctant to support a cap as low as $25, because it might place too much of a burden on pharmaceutical companies, which might choose against making a drug accessible in West Virginia.
That could make insulin even more inaccessible to West Virginians who need it, they argued.
The bill is sponsored by several members of both parties, including Dels. Jordan Hill, R-Nicholas, and Barbara Fleishchauer, D-Monongalia, the latter of whom testified to the committee Monday.
Fleischauer invited diabetic West Virginians and their family members to speak at the same meeting. They testified to insulin’s rising costs that already make the medication nearly inaccessible to many.
“I think we're being very empathetic toward the pharmaceutical companies,” said Kim Jones, who shared with lawmakers how much she personally has noticed the cost of insulin rise while covering her daughter’s prescriptions for Novolin insulin.
Before insurance and copays, Jones said she was paying $350 a month for four vials in 2009. That had escalated to $1,490 in 2017, for the same amount and type.
According to Del. Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, her concerns weren’t for the manufacturer’s sake.
“My concern is not for the profitable wellbeing of a company,” Graves said. “My only concern about the profit is that they continue to make this drug available to the people who desperately need it in West Virginia...I’m concerned about people being able to access this drug, and we have to think through legislation very carefully to make sure it has the effect that we intend.”
Graves ultimately did vote in favor of recommending the bill’s successful passage out of the Banking and Insurance committee. She and others said they’re keeping a close eye on the legislation as it moves forward. According to the Legislature's website Tuesday morning, the bill is in House Judiciary now.
Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.