Texas Democrats lead the fight to pass Historic Health Care Legislation

Would cap out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $50 per month

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

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

House Democrats are also supporting HB 18, legislation that would allow uninsured Texans access to discount prescription drugs, which would occur through a new state program. This state program 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.

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

In 2018, Talarico was rushed to the hospital after suffering from undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis a serious and potentially fatal condition if left untreated. After days in the hospital, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Talarico was told he would need daily insulin injections, which makes HB 40 personal. Even with his health insurance, his first 30-day supply of insulin cost him $684.

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

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

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), there were more than 2.3 million Texans with diabetes and an additional 23.8 percent of Texans were living with undiagnosed diabetes in 2017.

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.”