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AARP WV celebrates legislation increasing prescription drug access and affordability with signing of insulin co-pay bill: SB 577

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — WV Senate Bill 577, which reduces the co-pay cap on insulin and devices and permitting purchase of testing equipment without a prescription, is now law.

Gov. Justice hosted a April 19 bill signing ceremony at the State Capitol, where AARP Capitol Advocacy Team volunteers and staff joined him to commemorate the passage of the legislation. The legislation was completed in the final hours of the 2023 session and had passed by wide bipartisan margins in both chambers.

Gov. Justice signed the legislation on April 19. Courtesy photo

Under the new law, cost sharing for a 30-day supply of a covered prescription insulin drug is limited to $35, including situations where the covered person is prescribed more than one insulin drug, regardless of the amount or type of insulin needed to fill such covered person’s prescription. Cost sharing for a 30-day supply of covered devices is limited to $100, including situations where the covered person is prescribed more than one device. Each cost-share maximum is covered regardless of the person’s deductible, copayment, coinsurance or any other cost sharing requirement.

AARP WV shared the following information: Diabetes has escalated to epidemic proportions in the Mountain State. According to 2022 data from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention, more than 223,000 West Virginians have been diagnosed with diabetes by a health care professional. The direct medical costs attributed to diabetes in the state each year exceed $1.7 billion, while nearly $640 million in indirect costs annually are attributable to the disease.

The rising cost of prescription drugs, specifically insulin, remains a significant financial hardship for West Virginians 50-plus. From 2009 to 2019, the price of insulin tripled even though there has been no change in the product. As a result, many dependent upon this life saving and life sustaining medication ration their doses or go without, often with deadly consequences.

States, including West Virginia, have taken action to address the issue. The West Virginia Legislature took a significant first step in 2020 when it enacted House Bill 4543 to cap insulin co-pay costs at $100. Approximately 25 other states – including neighboring Kentucky, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws that limit out-of-pocket expenses for insulin.

With this year’s passage of SB 577, West Virginia is now the only state in the country to cap copays at $35 in the aggregate, regardless of quantity or type. Five other states (Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and Vermont) cap co-pays in the aggregate, but the cost sharing minimums in those states are set at $100.

In addition to SB 577, the House of Delegates also passed House Resolution 18. urging the Congress of the United States to enact federal law that allows for the expiration on pharmaceutical product patents in certain instances.