What do experts say?
To the Editor:
The criticism of my insulin video is an unwarranted attempt to stifle the much needed discussion at the Capitol on insulin pricing and government’s push to nationally socialize medicine. People are dying by rationing their expensive insulin. It is important to discuss all possible solutions and not disregard an idea experts agree can be part of a life-saving solution.
WCCO interviewed Marcus Arneson, a pharmaceutical expert with Allina Health, and quoted him as saying, “Insulins that are available over the counter are still viable treatment options for patients.” The Star Tribune confirmed with Matt Petersen, vice president of the American Diabetes Association, who said, “It is far better to use the older insulins with care than it is to either withhold or even to reduce the analog insulin.”
An extensive study by Yale Medicine, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirms Type II diabetics using the expensive analog insulin did not have substantially better outcomes, safety or blood sugar control. Dr. Lipska at Yale School of Medicine said, “This suggests that many people with type 2 diabetes should consider starting with NPH (Walmart) insulin instead of insulin analogs, especially if cost is an issue for them.” The CDC states that 90 percent to 95 percent of all diabetics are type 2.
Yet the Legislature is only focused on taxpayers bearing the full costs of all insulin. This is fiscally irresponsible and a slippery slope most of us do not want. My video attempted to further the discussion by showing there are other solutions and suggesting a one-size-fits-all government takeover of insulin payments is the wrong direction.
The larger story here is how lobbyists and special interest groups from across the country are using St. Paul, the nation’s sole divided legislature, as a proving ground for national socialized health care legislation. They are using Minnesota’s emergency insulin legislation as their vehicle bill and applying enormous pressure to stop any discussion not forwarding their agenda.
An endocrinologist with 35 years experience exclusively treating diabetics and who has testified in front of Congress regarding treatment submitted testimony to the Minnesota House Health & Human Services Committee, stressing the effectiveness of the Walmart insulins developed in the 1980s. However, his testimony was not even allowed to be referenced in committee without Democrat-socialists personally attacking him and refusing further discussion.
The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act was originally written to help a small subset of uninsured people who couldn’t qualify for state insurance. The original bill required a $25 per-vial co-pay and limited access to 90 days. The bill would cost $10.4 million annually.
After introducing the original bill, the private market responded: Eli Lilly introduced a half-priced “generic” version of its insulin; Sanofi also cut its insulin in half, and four Minnesota health insurance companies dropped their co-pays for insulin to $25 or zero. In a January 2019 Reuters report, Sanofi told Reuters about 85 percent of people who manage diabetes with its insulin products pay less than $50 a month. Novo Nordisk said a majority of people who manage diabetes with its insulin products also pay less than $50 a month.
The insulin legislation we heard in committee last week changed to provide free insulin to families earning less than $154,000 per year (600 percent of the federal poverty level), and now includes those who have insurance if their deductible or total out of pocket costs exceed $3,000. Thanks to Obamacare, almost every private policy has a deductible over $3K. Furthermore, employers currently offering lower deductibles will be incentivized to increase deductibles to $3,000 to push their insulin costs onto state taxpayers. This policy is fiscally irresponsible, encourages big pharma to increase costs, and will raise insurance prices for everyone.
The hashtag #Insulin4All, if successful, can be substituted with #EpiPens4all, #inhalers4all, #chemotherapy4all, #triplebypass4all, or any other important medicine or treatment. This will set the precedent for #Medicare4all. Once socialism has its foot in the door, nationwide socialism will roll across our Republic. With it will come a reduced standard of care, less access, fewer options, higher costs and taxes, and no incentive for drug manufacturers to improve or invest in medical innovations.
Contrary to the media coverage of this story, my position is not oversimplified. We as policymakers need to put all options on the table and hold honest discussions addressing our concerns, rather than implying government can solve and pay for every problem.
State Rep. Jeremy Munson