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Gov. Walz Signs Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act Virtually

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- Gov. Tim Walz was joined virtually by advocates for affordable insulin and legislators as he signed the long-awaited Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act Wednesday morning.

The days prior, Minnesota Legislature passed the bill for diabetics who can't afford the drug -- the House voted 111-22, and the Senate voted unanimously.

Alec Smith passed away in 2017 at the age of 26 after rationing his insulin because he couldn't afford the $1,300 per month he needed for the drug and test supplies after he aged off his mom's insurance. Diabetics and activists testified during hearings that rationing is a common but dangerous strategy among those who lack sufficient insurance coverage.

"Minnesotans should not die because they are forced to choose between putting food on the table and affording the drug they need to survive," Walz said.

The bill contains emergency and long-term components, which take effect on July 1, 2020. It will provide Minnesota diabetics -- who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need -- access to a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a co-pay of $35. Minnesotans who are eligible includes those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare, and who do not have access to low co-pays.

The legislation also streamlines the process by which Minnesotans can access affordable insulin in the long-term. Insulin manufacturers would participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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