Today, Gov. Tim Walz, joined virtually by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, legislators, and advocates, signed into law the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. The bill was passed by the Minnesota legislature Tuesday evening with a 111-22 vote in the House and a Senate vote of 67-0.
The bill, roughly a year in the making, was named after Alec Smith, a diabetic who died in 2017 when he attempted to ration his insulin because it was no longer affordable on his salary.
According to studies, the risk of diabetes is high among African Americans. African American adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic White adults to have been diagnosed with the disease and twice as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to die from it.
The new law aims to make insulin more affordable by providing diabetics who need it a 30-day emergency supply of insulin for $35. Eligible Minnesotans include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare, and who do not have access to low co-pays. The legislation will also streamline the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term by insisting on program participation by insulin manufacturers or face non-compliance fines.
“This hard-fought law will provide much-needed relief to Minnesotans struggling to afford their insulin,” said Walz of the bipartisan legislation. “We must continue to put Minnesotans first and ensure people don’t struggle to afford the care they need.”
Walz also applauded Alec Smith’s mother Nicole Smith-Holt and others who stood in the gap “because someone they loved couldn’t survive to their next paycheck without insulin.”
“This is an incredible accomplishment. Big Pharma was defeated by the passion and tireless hard work of the advocates and legislators who got this done,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Lobbyists and corporations were no match for a friend’s concern, a legislator’s determination, and above all, a mother’s undying love.”