COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There are 1.3 million adults living with diabetes in Ohio, and another 70,000 are diagnosed every year, according to Democratic lawmakers pushing a series of bills aimed at capping the skyrocketing price of insulin.
Elected officials have proposed a bill, modeled after a similar bill in Colorado, that would cap co-pay costs to patients purchasing insulin at $100 per month.
A single vial of insulin can cost on average about $300 and the proposed bill is an effort to reduce instances of rationing, officials said.
According to lawmakers, 30% of diabetics nationwide ration their insulin because of the cost.
Officials said patients struggling financially have to decide whether to purchase more insulin or buy food or put that money toward other bills.
Prices for the same insulin, manufactured by the same companies, are dramatically lower in neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico (90% cheaper in Canada, and 50% cheaper in Mexico), officials said.
Antroinette Worsham knows this first hand.
Worsham said she and her daughter, who has diabetes, traveled to Canada to purchase insulin.
Worsham’s other daughter, Antavia, died as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis due to her decision to ration her insulin, she said.
“I wasn’t on government assistance. I worked at Mercy Health. $3,800 deductible, $1,800 individual deductible. I have a degree, I work, I pay taxes, and it’s still too expensive for us,” Worsham said.
State Senator Hearcel Craig told reporters the proposed bill will save lives by lowering the cost of insulin.
“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, this is about our families and our children,” said Craig.
So far, Republicans have joined the effort in the House of Representatives as co-sponsors to the bill.
In the Senate, however, Republicans are still mulling over if they want to get involved.
State Representative Beth Liston, one of the primary sponsors of the House version of the bill said, there is a solution to solving this problem.
“In medicine it is simple. We know how to treat it. We need policies that make it possible,” Liston said.
Liston, a practicing doctor when not at the Statehouse, said she sees diabetic patients coming into the emergency rooms with diabetic ketoacidosis nearly every shift.
The price of insulin has been a problem for a while now, officials said.
Every year around this time stories are produced and written about the issue, and every year the numbers continue to go up, whether its cost of insulin, the number of people rationing, or lives lost, officials said.