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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

There was a lot of conversation in St. Paul this year centered on access to insulin for individuals with diabetes. Sadly, last year, a young man from Minnesota passed away in 2017 when he was unable to afford insulin.

Simply put, diabetics should not have to worry about where their next dose of insulin is coming from. These folks depend on insulin to survive.

Just this session, we passed a few bills to improve awareness and access to insulin for low-income individuals.

The special session Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus bill, included a provision to improve consumer knowledge of and access to patient assistance programs operated by drug manufacturers.

Many drug manufacturers offer patient assistance programs that provide financial assistance or free medications to low-income individuals. Today, there exists numerous resources online for consumers to see if their medications have assistance programs. Starting August 1, Minnesota will begin offering its own resource for individuals.

The Board of Pharmacy will be tasked with operating the program on its website. Through this portal, a patient will be able to find information about:

  1. Patient assistance programs offered by drug manufacturers, including information on how to access the programs
  2. The prescription drug assistance program established by the Minnesota Board of Aging
  3. Websites through which individuals can access information concerning eligibility for and enrollment in Medicare, medical assistance, MinnesotaCare, and other government-funded programs that help pay for the cost of health care
  4. Availability of providers that are authorized to participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program
  5. Having a discussion with the pharmacist or the consumer's health care provider about alternatives to a prescribed drug, including a lower cost or generic drug if the drug prescribed is too costly for the consumer
  6. Any other resource that the Board deems useful to individuals who are attempting to purchase prescription drugs at lower costs

This will be a great resource for any individual who is looking for a way to reduce the cost of their health care. It will be especially helpful for those who must take expensive prescription drugs, including insulin.

Additionally, the three major insulin manufacturers each offer their own program to help low-income patients afford medication.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for patient assistance programs. When the Board of Pharmacy has its resource available, it will be a great benefit for patients who struggle to afford their medication.

I am hopeful that we will be able to take additional steps next session to address this problem. Until then, please be sure to take advantage of the resources listed above if you need assistance. You can also reach out to my office if you ever have a question regarding this issue or any other matter related to state government.

I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn.

Have a great day,

Glenn

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