A proposal moving through the Texas Legislature could place a cap on the cost of insulin and insulin supplies.

On Tuesday, the Insurance Committee met to discuss House Bill 40, a bipartisan bill authored by State Rep. James Talarico (D–Round Rock) and co-authored by 101 other state representatives. 

The hearing comes after companion legislation, Senate Bill 827 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), passed the chamber 27-3 last month.

The legislation has been gaining traction after more than a decade of insulin prices skyrocketing, and if passed, insulin copays will be capped at $50 per 30-day supply.

Talarico shared that he was diagnosed with diabetes in May 2018 at 28 years old, when he was on the campaign trail. 

“Even with health insurance, I paid $684 for my first 30-day supply of insulin—the medicine I need to live,” Talarico shared. “I had to put it on a credit card.”

Talarico cited three major reasons why the cost of insulin is so high. Only three companies control the market, there is no generic alternative, and there is no competition due to patenting and “evergreening,” which extended the life of existing patents.

Jamie Dundensing, the CEO of the Texas Association of Health Plans, raised the concern in March that caps don’t solve the root problem of the high cost of insulin, would create huge costs for employers, and would not actually lower the cost of insulin.

“The price of insulin continues to rise with no major improvements to the drug,” Dundensing stated. “Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi Aventis control 90 percent of the insulin market and have increased prices in lockstep for several years. Copay cap mandates will not stop these unjustified price hikes or lower the cost of insulin.”

If passed, Texas would be the 16th state to place a cap on insulin costs.

HB 40 has been left pending by the committee.

Iris Poole

Iris Poole is a 2021 Texas Scorecard Fellow from Round Rock. She is freedom-loving and had an early interest in liberty and politics.