Texas Democrats’ Historic Health Care Legislation That Caps Insulin Costs Becomes Law

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was in the Rio Grande Valley today claiming a victory for affordable health care on behalf of millions of diabetics across the state. However, it was Texas Democrats who led the fight to pass life-saving statewide legislation that would cap the out-of-pocket cost of prescription insulin at $25 for the insured.

Democratic-led HB 827 gained large bipartisan support and was signed by the governor in June and became law on September 1 of this year. However, the cap does not extend to those who are uninsured or on Medicaid, the federal assistance program designed to help low-income adults and children pay for health care.

Texas Republicans have historically opposed any expansion to the eligibility requirements for Medicaid in Texas, which leaves millions of people in the state in a situation in which they earn too much to qualify for the program under Texas requirements, but earn too little to afford health care and their prescription medication.

Since Republicans will not expand Medicaid, Democrats supported HB 18, legislation that would allow Texas’ 5 million uninsured people to access discounted prescription drugs through a new state program that could lower the monthly costs of drugs like insulin by negotiating with drug manufacturers.

James Talarico (D-Round Rock), first introduced HB 40, identical legislation to HB 827, during the regular session to cap insulin costs. The intention behind the legislation was personal for Talarico who, in 2018, was rushed to the hospital after suffering from undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious and potentially deadly condition if left untreated. After days in the hospital, Talarico was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was told he would need daily insulin injections. Yet, even with his health insurance, his first 30-day supply of insulin cost him a whopping $684.

In the last 20 years, insulin costs have skyrocketed 1,200% and can easily be over $1,000 for each 30-day supply, even with insurance. Having the means to pay for insulin is a question of life and death for millions of adults and children across the state.

According to the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), in 2017, more than 2.3 million Texans had diabetes and an additional 23.8% of Texans were living with undiagnosed diabetes.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement:

“Democrats continue to lead and deliver on health care as a human right for all Texans. Costs should never be a factor in determining who gets life-saving medication. And since Greg Abbott and Republicans in the legislature refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, millions of Texans are forced to decide between the medicine they need to live or paying rent.

“I thank all of our Democratic legislators for pushing this legislation forward to save Texans’ lives. Improving access to health care is something we can all agree on. We must now work to decrease the gap between the insured and the uninsured in our state.”