‘We have patients that actually ration their insulin’: A bill to make insulin more affordable being debated at the ND senate

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - North Dakota lawmakers are debating a bill for affordable insulin. Senate Bill 2140 would price cap the medicine and lower the prices.

“Even sometimes thinking about food my blood sugar raises,” said 20-year-old Danika Johnson, who has Type I diabetes. “I’m with my parents insurance but I know one day that won’t be a thing so it’s scary to think these things that are happening now with them could be me one day.”

Johnson said the insulin she needs to survive can be very expensive and she has seen others struggle without. Danika’s mom, Danelle Johnson, has been advocating for the bill for years. She wants to see insulin become more accessible for those in the state like her daughter.

“We need to be the voice for the people that can’t. It would mean a lot to me to see so many families with so much less burden in their daily lives.” said Danelle Johnson.

“Pass this bill so that we can help people afford it going forward.” said State Senator for Fargo, Ryan Braunberger.

Rachel Nelles, a nurse practitioner with Essentia Health who also has Type I diabetes, said in an interview that when she was younger in the late 70s, insulin would be six dollars a bottle. Now it’s hundreds of dollars, but she said if insulin became more affordable it would help the healthcare system as a whole.

“We have patients that actually ration their insulin because they can’t afford refills so they’ll take less than they need or required to keep their blood sugars in range,” said Nelles. “Patients with Type I diabetes can go into diabetic keto-acidosis if they don’t get their insulin and that’s an intensive care unit stay on an insulin drip. Very costly.”

For the Johnson family, they look forward to the day they can be done being advocates for affordable insulin and just want to go back to their normal lives.

“It would be nice to finally stop working on this and to be able to live my normal life knowing that I don’t have to be concerned about my future paying for insulin.” said Danika Johnson.