Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



March 3, 2020

Senator Needleman Supports, Commends Passage of Bill in Committee to Cap Insulin Costs at $50; Public Hearing on Bill to Lower the Price of Prescription Drugs

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) commended colleagues State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) and State Representative Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), the co-chairs of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, as they led passage in committee of a proposed bill to cap the cost of insulin prescriptions at $50, the lowest cap in the country. The legislators also held a public hearing on legislation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. The insulin legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1, passed in a bipartisan 17-1 tally. The bill will now move to the state Senate for a vote.

Capping Insulin Prescriptions at $50

The bill, SB 1, contains several provisions to help diabetes patients and their families afford insulin.
They include:

Capping insulin costs including for all insulin and diabetes supplies at $150/month. This would be the toughest cap in the country.

  • Insulin is $50 per 30 day.
  • Non-insulin drugs (glucose) is $50 per 30 day.
  • Devices/equipment is $100 per 30 day.
  • Insulin + devices is $100 per month.

Allowing patients to go to a pharmacist up to three times a year on an emergency basis to get insulin filled without a prescription. Insurance must cover the cost up to 3 times a year for their policyholders. Everyone would have access to emergency insulin if they go to a pharmacist.

Bill language was released in February following an announcement of the bill by state Senate Democratic Caucus in January. This proposal is priority number one for Senate Democrats for the 2020 legislative session. It is also priority No. 1 for the thousands of Connecticut residents suffering from diabetes, struggling to afford life-saving insulin due to outrageously high prices.

“I commend this strong step forward for Connecticut. Insulin is necessary for thousands every day; it should not be a commodity,” said Sen. Needleman. “Common sense legislation like this will strike back against predatory pricing and help ordinary people live their lives.”

“Today, Connecticut is one step closer to having the strongest insulin cap in the country,” said Sen. Lesser. “Insulin isn’t optional, this bill will save lives. I’m grateful to the support from our Committee members and look forward to carrying Senate Bill 1 forward in the Senate.”

“Today’s vote gets us one step closer to making sure that no one in Connecticut ever has to worry about being able to afford the insulin they need to survive again,” said Rep. Scanlon. “Whether it’s a senior rationing their insulin because they can’t afford it or the young man who said he pays more for insulin each year than on his tuition to one of our state universities, it’s clear from what we’ve heard that we need to act and I’m glad we are.”

This timely proposed legislation comes as excessive insulin costs are severely impacting Connecticut’s diabetes patients. According to Health Care Cost Institute, the cost of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, then doubled from that from 2012 to 2016. According to the AARP, “Americans with diabetes, the majority of whom are older adults, face insulin prices that average more than $5,000 per year.” Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in Connecticut. This proposed legislation will save lives in Connecticut, ensuring the 11.4 percent of state’s population with diabetes, and 36.5 percent with prediabetes, can afford Insulin without having to adopt the unsafe practice of rationing their medicine.

Across the country, state governments are grappling with bringing down insulin costs. According to the AARP, last year Colorado passed legislation to cap out-of-pocket cost for insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply. According to a CNN report, Virginia’s House of Delegates passed legislation preventing insurance companies from charging co-pays over $30 for a 30-day insulin supply, Tennessee lawmakers introduced a bill to ensure patients do not have to pay over $100 for a 30-day supply of the drug and Illinois passed a bill capping Insulin costs as well.

Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs

The legislation, House Bill (HB) 5366, had a public hearing and will be voted on in committee at a date to be determined.

According to the bill’s proposed language, HB 5366 will accomplish the following to enable Connecticut residents to afford life-saving, essential prescription drugs:

  • Cap aggregate monthly cost-sharing for prescription drugs covered under certain individual and group health insurance policies at $250.
  • Cap the cost of generic drugs in this state.
  • Require the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to submit a request to the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services to implement a Canadian prescription drug reimportation program in this state and, if the secretary approves such request, implement such program in this state.
  • Require pharmaceutical manufacturers to send notice to the Insurance Commissioner regarding “pay-for-delay” agreements, and require health carriers and pharmacy benefits managers to reduce the cost of brand name prescription drugs that are the subject of such agreements. Establish a Critical Drug Shortage Review Board.
  • Limit the circumstances in which a health carrier may remove a prescription drug from a drug formulary or list of covered drugs, or move a prescription drug to a different cost-sharing tier, during a plan year.

This legislation is also incredibly timely as according to the AARP RX Price Watch, retail prices for widely used prescription drugs increased, on average, between 2006 and 2018. In 2018, retail prices for 267 brand name prescription drugs widely used by older adults increased by an average of 5.8 percent. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 2.4 percent over the same period.

According to a September report from the AARP Public Policy Institute, “retail prices for a combined set of 754 widely used brand name, generic, and specialty prescription drugs increased by an average of 4.2% in 2017, well above the general inflation rate of 2.1% for the same period.” They add, “this marked the 12th year in a row of often substantial drug price increases.”