Texas Democrats Leading Fight to Pass Historic Health Care Legislation That Would Cap Insulin Costs at $50

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Democrats are leading the fight to pass life-saving statewide legislation that would cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $50 per month.

Texas Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) has introduced a bill in the state House (HB 40) to cap the cost of insulin at $50 per month for those with health insurance. HB 40 was heard in the House Insurance Committee Tuesday and is awaiting a vote in the committee.

Similarly, House Democrats are supporting HB 18, legislation that would allow uninsured Texans access to discount prescription drugs. This would occur through a new state program that could lower the monthly costs of drugs like insulin by up to 70 percent by negotiating with drug manufacturers on behalf of over 5  million Texans without health insurance.

HB 40’s companion bill in the state Senate (SB 827) was introduced by Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and jointly authored by Sen. César Blanco (D-El Paso) and was passed with bipartisan support on March 25.

HB 40 is personal for Talarico. In 2018, he 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.

For people with diabetes who are uninsured or underinsured, the cost for their daily medication can easily be over $1,000 for each 30-day supply. Having the means to pay for insulin is a question of life and death for millions of adults and children across the state.

“Even with health insurance, I paid $684 for my first 30-day supply of insulin—the medicine I need to live,” said Rep. Talarico. “I had to put it on a credit card. In the last 20 years, the price of insulin has skyrocketed 1200%. I introduced legislation to cap the price of insulin at $50 a month because access to insulin is a human right.”

The legislation has widespread bipartisan support in both chambers and is also endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, AARP, and several legislative committees.

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 percent of Texans were living with undiagnosed diabetes.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement:

“Health care is a human right, and this legislation would provide a lifeline for millions of Texans across the state. Everyone deserves equitable access to necessary medications. I thank Rep. Talarico and Sen. Blanco for pushing this legislation forward to save Texans’ lives. Improving access to health care is something we can all agree on. Let’s stand behind these incredibly important bills and deliver a lifesaving victory for Texans.”