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Smith, Cramer introduce legislation addressing rising prices of insulin


BISMARCK — U.S. senators from Minnesota and North Dakota reached across the aisle and the Red River to introduce legislation addressing the rising cost of insulin Thursday, June 27.

The bill was billed as a way to "expand access to life-sustaining insulin to those who cannot afford it" while penalizing manufacturers for "excessive" price increases. Dubbed the Emergency Access to Insulin Act, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Tina Smith and North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer formally introduced the bill Thursday.

In a statement, Smith referenced the case of Alec Smith, a 26-year-old Minneapolis man who died from complications from diabetes after rationing his insulin. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has called for a special session to address insulin legislation after state lawmakers failed to pass a bill named after Smith, who died two years ago Thursday.

"While I support long-term solutions to bring down prices, no one should have to suffer Alec’s fate,” Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee, said in a statement.

Cramer said 50,000 North Dakotans with diabetes rely on insulin, but rising costs means many are unable to afford it. About 30 million Americans have diabetes, including 7.5 million who require insulin to survive, according to a news release from Smith's office.

“I am pleased to join Senator Smith in proposing a short-term emergency access solution to assist those in need as we pursue a more permanent fix to this problem," Cramer said in a statement.

The bill would provide federal grants to states, territories and tribes to deliver a short-term supply of insulin for uninsured and "underinsured" patients. It would also impose a penalty and recurring fee on insulin manufacturers to fund the grant program, and it aims to promote insulin market competition.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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