Minnesota insulin safety net funds $6M in supplies in 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — More than 1,100 Minnesota residents used the state’s insulin safety net program to secure over $6 million worth of the lifesaving drug last year, the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy and the MNsure health insurance exchange said Tuesday.

Eligible residents in immediate need of assistance — those who have less than a seven-day supply of insulin and will likely face significant health consequences without it — can use the emergency program to get a 30-day supply right away at their pharmacy and pay no more than a $35 copay.

The Minnesota Insulin Safety Net Program also helps residents who need longer-term help covering the costs of insulin. Eligible Minnesotans can get up to a year’s supply for no more than $50 per 90-day refill.

The program was created by the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, which was enacted in 2020. It’s named for Alec Smith, who died from diabetic complications in 2017 at the age of 26 after rationing his insulin to make it last longer.

“Alec’s law continues to save lives, and the increased number of Minnesotans utilizing this safety net underscores that our work isn’t finished,” Democratic Rep. Michael Howard, of Richfield, who was the lead author in the House, said in a statement.

Howard is also author of a current piece of legislation to cap copayments on prescriptions for insulin and other life-saving medications, such as asthma inhalers and EpiPens.