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Senate votes in favor of bill proposing $35 insulin cap to ease financial burden for Oregonians

Oregon – The Oregon Senate has voted in favor of Senate Bill 1508, which aims to put a cap on the cost of insulin for residents with insurance, marking a significant step toward making life-saving medication more affordable in the state. The bill, approved with a 27-to-3 vote on Tuesday, proposes a $35 limit for a 30-day supply and a $105 cap for a 90-day supply, marking a pivotal moment in the fight against the skyrocketing costs of essential medications.

Addressing the Insulin Affordability Crisis

The push for this legislation comes in response to the alarming rise in insulin prices, which have seen a substantial increase in recent years. According to the American Diabetes Association, the copay cap for insulin currently stands at $85, a figure that starkly contrasts with the proposed $35 limit. This increase is particularly striking given that the medication’s chemical composition has not been altered since the 1990s.

Data from the medical journal Diabetes Care highlights the urgency of the situation, noting that the average annual cost of insulin jumped by 55% between 2014 and 2019, from $3,819 to $5,917. Concurrently, the average monthly out-of-pocket expense for insulin users rose by 18%, from $49 to $58. The journal further reports that one in four individuals dependent on insulin has had to reduce their usage due to financial constraints, underscoring the critical need for legislative intervention.

A Comprehensive Approach to Health Coverage

Senate Bill 1508 not only addresses the cost of insulin but also seeks to reform how treatment coverage decisions are made for Oregon Health Plan members. It aims to prevent the Health Evidence Review Commission and Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee from relying on Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) formulas. These formulas, as criticized by Sen. Deb Patterson, the bill’s chief sponsor, devalue treatments for individuals with chronic illnesses and disabilities, potentially restricting their access to necessary care.

Sen. Patterson’s statement emphasizes the moral imperative behind the bill: “No Oregonian should suffer because they can’t afford basic, life-saving medication.” She highlights the unacceptable choices many residents face, such as rationing medication or choosing between prescriptions and essential living expenses. SB 1508 champions the principle that every Oregonian, regardless of health status, deserves comprehensive and affordable care.

As the bill now heads to the Oregon House of Representatives for further consideration, its bipartisan support in the Senate signals a hopeful future for its enactment. This legislation represents a crucial step toward ensuring that essential medications like insulin are accessible and affordable for all Oregonians, ultimately aiming to safeguard the health and well-being of individuals with diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Orion Hargrove


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