Green Bay lawmaker works to make insulin more affordable in Wisconsin

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- A study from the American Diabetes Association shows direct medical costs for a person with diabetes are more than double what they are for a person without the disease.

Diagnosed diabetics spend nearly $10,000 every year on treatment according to the results.

Action 2 News put a post on Facebook Wednesday afternoon asking viewers to share stories about life with diabetes and the associated costs.

"Not only do we have to buy the insulin, but we have to purchase the supplies to also get it in our bodies," said Kaitlin Tauriainen who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nearly 30 years ago.

Like Tauriainen, hundreds of people responded.

Bethany Emler writes in part, "With insurance discount and a discount coupon from my insulin company my bill was still $465."

Kevin Lubach also joins in saying, "The cost of the medications, and all the supplies is outrageous even with good insurance. It should not cost us so much for mediations that our required to keep us alive and healthy as possible."

"It's all about saving people's lives and giving them a high quality of life and that's what's missing in this whole equation," said Senator Dave Hansen, (D) Green Bay.

A borderline diabetic himself, the retiring Green Bay senator introduced Senate Bill 340 in August 2019. The legislation would cap the cost of insulin at $100 out-of-pocket for a 30-day supply in the State of Wisconsin. It only applies to people who have insurance, as those companies will be responsible to pay for the rest.

"When I brought this forward, I thought, 'Geez, this is going to be bipartisan,'" said Hansen.

Six months later, it still sits in committee with no Republicans signed on.

"Colorado and Illinois got it right," said Hansen. "We haven't gotten it right yet, but we're going to try."

Both states passed legislation with the same cap proposed in Hansen's bill. They are the only two states in the nation to take action on insulin affordability so far, but it has not gone unnoticed with 28 other states drafting or introducing similar bills.

"This is something that's a life or death situation. There are people in this country that have died from having to ration their insulin which is not ok," said Tauriainen. "It's not ok to let people die over not being able to afford something."

Hansen says he hopes the person in his seat next year will be committed to seeing Senate Bill 340 pass.