Healthcare, Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

Barbara Fleischauer planning bill to cap copays for diabetic equipment, supplies and medications

MORGANTOWN – Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, plans to introduce a bill this legislative session to cap copays on supplies, equipment and non-insulin drugs for people with diabetes.

She held a virtual meeting Tuesday with patients, family members of patients and advocates for the cause to plan how to get the word out – to the public and to other legislators– and build support for the bill.

She and members of the group will hold a virtual press conference on the bill at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The bill, she said, is being drafted by the House Health Committee attorney. It will piggy-back on last session’s HB 4543, which capped insulin copays at $100.

It will be modeled on a Connecticut bill, she said. The American Diabetes Association reports that the legislation, which passed last summer, caps copays for insulin and other medications at $25 per month, and for devices and supplies at $100 per month.

At the press conference, speakers will offer specifics on their copay costs and what types of supplies, equipment and non-insulin drugs would be covered by the bill.

Participants at Tuesday’s planning meeting cited such things as insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, conventional glucose monitors and test strips, and drugs such as Trulicity and Metformin, which help control blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Costs for all these can top hundreds of dollars per month, even with insurance, the participants said.

Maggie Reider, a South Middle School teacher, was among the participants. She also rode the insulin caravan bus to Canada in December 2019 along with her 17-year-old son, Roxy Vasil, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in first grade.

She said on Tuesday, “I hate to think of all the opportunities he’s missed out on in life because he has Type 1 diabetes. And I would like to see that future generations do not suffer as those have in the past.”

Fleischauer acknowledged there will be some challenges to getting the word out – not just to the public but to other legislators. Because of COVID, House committee meetings will be limited to just two locations: the House floor and the Government Organization room in the East Wing.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how everything will function, she said.

Another challenge may arise in the Senate and Fleischauer acknowledged she doesn’t know yet how that may play out.

The bill is an insurance bill and may have to go through the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood.

Azinger opposed the insulin copay bill and nearly killed it by keeping it off his agenda, as The Dominion Post reported last March. But bill supporters, including the West Virginia Team for Insulin Affordability, lobbied and pressured; so Azinger at the last moment placed it on his agenda for the panel’s last meeting and the committee sent it to Health without a recommendation for passage.

On the Senate floor, Azinger posted the only vote against the bill and it passed 33-1 on its way to the governor’s office.

The 2021 legislative session begins Feb. 10.

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