DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill in to law on Wednesday that caps co-payments on insulin medications for those with private insurance at $100. With the action, Colorado becomes the first state in the country to put such a price cap into effect. The $100 ceiling is well under the $600-to-$900 range many people were paying per month.
Polis said in his office "We declare that the days of insulin price gouging are over in Colorado."
The room was packed with Coloradans impacted by diabetes including the bill's sponsor, State Rep. Dylan Roberts. He lost his brother, Murphy, three years ago. Murphy Roberts lived with Type 1 diabetes.
"(This bill is) to honor Murphy's memory, and of course for the 400,000 Coloradans who live with diabetes every day," Polis said before signing the bill.
In the last two decades the price of insulin skyrocketed more than 700%. Many Coloradans rely on the medication, which is manufactured by just three different companies, to survive. Roberts said the medications always jumped in price at the same time by all three companies.
By capping the price for those with private insurance, Roberts hoped more people could spend their money on things other than lifesaving drugs.
"My little brother, Murphy, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 10-years-old," Roberts said. "Just looking at the price tag of those insulin vials coming in, I knew even at that age how big of a burden that could be."
The new law also requires Attorney General Phil Wiser to investigate the past price increases of insulin and the companies that make the medications. Roberts said the investigation could help other states in their push to cap prices on co-pays. He also said it could be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to one day assuring other drug manufacturers do not inflate prices to unreasonable levels.
For the Roberts family, they were lucky. Murphy Roberts could afford his medication under his insurance policy. Dylan Roberts said many other families were not able to. While the new law wouldn't have saved his brother's life, Roberts said it could save others down the road.
"I think he'd be really proud. He would be really happy. It is too bad he couldn't be here to see it, but it means a lot that the governor said his name before he signed it," Roberts said.
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