Gov. Walz calls for public hearings to break insulin impasse

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz - AP image

Gov. Tim Walz is urging Minnesota lawmakers to hold public hearings to try to break an impasse over legislation to make insulin more affordable.

Posted: Nov 18, 2019 11:03 AM
Updated: Nov 18, 2019 1:29 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz on Monday urged Minnesota lawmakers to hold public hearings to try to break an impasse over legislation to make insulin more affordable.

Lawmakers in an insulin work group have made little apparent progress in closed-door talks over the past month toward reconciling the differences between competing House Democratic and Senate Republican plans.

The governor told reporters that public hearings with testimony from experts and advocates could provide the necessary push to find middle ground and reach a deal that lawmakers could pass in a one-day special session sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, rather than waiting for the 2020 regular session, which opens Feb. 11

“I think we’ve reached the end of what the closed-door negotiations can get us, and now it’s time to pull that forward,” he said.

Here’s a look at the issue, the proposals in play and the differences between leaders of the House Democratic and Senate Republican majorities that have held up an agreement.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

An emergency insulin proposal passed the House last session following emotional testimony about diabetics who had been forced to ration their insulin because of the soaring costs.

But Republicans who control the Senate balked toward the end of the session, and the language was dropped in the final hours of negotiations. Lawmakers kept talking, though, and Senate Republicans floated their proposal in September.

Both sides agreed last month to form a work group with a goal of trying to reach a compromise within 30 days. By Walz’s count, Monday was the nonbinding 30-day deadline, though Senate Republicans count it as Wednesday.

THE PLANS

The House Democratic plan would charge drug companies fees to cover the costs of 90-day emergency supplies for diabetics who can’t afford their insulin. The Senate Republican proposal would require drug companies to provide patients with free insulin via their doctor’s offices for up to a year, renewable, if their income is low enough.

Both proposals have high income limits. The Senate GOP plan would benefit patients who aren’t already on public insurance programs and whose family income is less than 400% of the federal poverty line. That means about $50,000 a year for individuals and about $100,000 for a family of four.

The House Democratic plan is pegged to 600% of the poverty line. It would benefit patients who don’t have insurance, have no drug coverage or have high-deductible plans. They’d get their emergency supplies from their local pharmacies.

House Democrats offered a compromise Friday that included some elements of the Senate GOP plan, but a deal remained elusive.

THE DIVISIONS

Senate Republicans have balked at the Democrats’ yet-to-be determined fee on drug manufacturers, seeing it as a tax, even though their own plan would force insulin makers to absorb the costs of providing free insulin.

House Democrats have objected that the Senate GOP plan doesn’t specifically provide for emergency insulin supplies, even though it would expand the availability of free insulin to many of the same diabetics who would benefit from the Democrats’ plan.

A SOLUTION?

Insulin activists have expressed support for both proposals. Without assigning blame, Walz said the two sides should be able to bridge their differences.

“The solution’s there, the compromise is there, the will to get it done is there, and all we need to do is push it over the line,” the governor said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 593622

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1228171731
Ramsey51446875
Dakota45976452
Anoka41782439
Washington26948283
Stearns22266222
St. Louis17787304
Scott17296124
Wright16082140
Olmsted1325598
Sherburne1173087
Carver1050745
Clay816392
Rice8063107
Blue Earth751541
Crow Wing666290
Kandiyohi656283
Chisago601351
Otter Tail575478
Benton571697
Goodhue478572
Douglas468575
Mower466232
Winona455050
Itasca439156
McLeod424559
Isanti422464
Morrison419660
Nobles408048
Beltrami397059
Steele388715
Polk384868
Becker380953
Lyon361051
Carlton345654
Freeborn342029
Pine329022
Nicollet326243
Brown305440
Mille Lacs305053
Le Sueur292423
Todd282432
Cass273428
Meeker256640
Waseca236322
Martin230732
Roseau209419
Wabasha20613
Hubbard190041
Dodge18513
Renville180343
Redwood174337
Houston171916
Cottonwood165823
Fillmore156510
Wadena155922
Pennington153719
Faribault152419
Chippewa152338
Kanabec144726
Sibley143810
Aitkin135036
Watonwan13289
Rock128319
Jackson121812
Pipestone115926
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11056
Murray10639
Swift105618
Stevens91411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86916
Koochiching83615
Wilkin81612
Lake81120
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5788
Mahnomen5539
Norman5399
Unassigned49293
Kittson48622
Red Lake3977
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367236

Reported Deaths: 5940
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57666626
Linn20892335
Scott20060241
Black Hawk15824308
Woodbury15138228
Johnson1449183
Dubuque13380208
Dallas1118398
Pottawattamie11132168
Story1062348
Warren577988
Clinton555893
Cerro Gordo540689
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481399
Des Moines458066
Wapello4303122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419372
Plymouth401280
Lee376055
Marion362875
Jones299057
Henry291937
Carroll285752
Bremer284860
Crawford266240
Boone265034
Benton256655
Washington254050
Dickinson248543
Mahaska230451
Jackson222142
Clay215725
Kossuth215564
Tama209871
Delaware209741
Winneshiek196835
Page192722
Buchanan191432
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184737
Hamilton180049
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler165034
Madison162519
Mills162422
Floyd161142
Cherokee158938
Lyon158241
Poweshiek154934
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148434
Winnebago142531
Cass138654
Calhoun138513
Grundy136333
Emmet134240
Jefferson132435
Shelby131137
Sac130419
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose128049
Mitchell126442
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120721
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100224
Unassigned9710
Keokuk96031
Monroe95329
Ida90435
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
Rochester
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 57°
Mason City
Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 58°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 57°
Austin
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Charles City
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: °
Warmer conditions for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events