State Advocacy: Where Do We Stand?

While most people have been focusing on federal issues so far this year (and it’s been pretty dramatic, so we don’t blame you!), state legislatures have been considering and passing diabetes bills across the country. Read on to find out some of the issues states have taken on, and whether we think taking time to advocate at the state level is worth it (spoiler alert: it is).

California is educating parents about type one diabetes!

California S.B. 138 is a bill that would require the department to develop type 1 diabetes informational materials for the parents and guardians of pupils. The bill would require, on and after January 1, 2021, school districts and charter schools to make those materials available to the parent or guardian of a pupil while the pupil is enrolled in kindergarten or when the pupil is first enrolled in elementary school, and while the pupil is enrolled in grade 7. The California legislature sat on this bill for a while, but it is back on the move! On May 21st, the Senate placed the bill in the special consent calendar, and on May 23rd, the Senate passed the bill! It now goes to the Assembly for approval. Click here to send a letter to your California Assembly member asking them to support S.B. 138!

Indiana legislators now know about the dangers of accumulator adjustment programs!

Indiana H. 1307 would have prevented accumulator adjustment programs by requiring a state employee health plan, an accident and sickness insurer, and a health maintenance organization to count cost sharing payments made on behalf of a covered individual toward the covered individual's cost sharing amount (deductible). Unfortunately, this bill did not get out of the House Committee on Insurance quick enough to pass during the legislative session. However, the groundwork has been laid, and next session we’ll expect the House to pick up the legislation again!

Kentucky is letting pharmacists give their patients the right amount of medicine in emergencies!

The seal of the state of Kentucky with a gavel.

Kentucky H.B. 64 was signed into law on March 26th. This law allows pharmacists to dispense the appropriate amount of prescription medications to patients who are experiencing an emergency situation and unable to get a prescription from their healthcare practitioner. Before this bill was passed, Kentucky pharmacists were only allowed to dispense emergency insulin in a preset, standardardized amount. But every person with diabetes has different needs, and that preset amount won’t be enough for everyone. Now, pharmacists are allowed to dispense the appropriate amount of insulin (and some other life-sustaining prescription medications) that a patient needs to get through an emergency situation. This is a great win for our community, and one more way we can ensure people who rely on insulin stay safe!

Maryland legislators had considered prohibiting copays for insulin!

Maryland S. 410 would have prohibited, except under certain circumstances, certain insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations from imposing a deductible, copayment, or coinsurance requirement on insulin after January 1, 2020. The bill was introduced in February and had a hearing in March, but did not pass out of the Senate Finance Committee before the legislative session ended. It’s too bad that this bill didn’t go further, but we’re glad that Maryland lawmakers were exposed to this idea!

Oklahoma has the chance to cap copays for insulin at $100!

Insulin pen.

Oklahoma H.B. 1130 would cap the copayment amount for insulin at $100. That would mean savings for a lot of people who have high copayments under their current insurance! This bill is still in the Committee on Insurance, and unfortunately there has been no movement since it was introduced in February. The legislative session closes on May 31st, so we have one more week to make our voices heard on this bill! Click here to send a letter to your Oklahoma representative and ask them to support H.B. 1130!

Is state advocacy worth the effort?

Definitely! With the federal legislative process running, ahem, s l o w l y, we’re looking to state legislatures to pass bills that make positive change for people with diabetes. As you can see from the list above, states are tackling a bunch of different issues - from type one education in schools, to accumulator adjustment programs, to emergency prescription access, to caps on copays for diabetes supplies. Making your voice heard in your state is an extremely effective way to advocate because often you have a more direct line to your representative, and because state representatives tend to consider more ‘out of the box’ bills. As always, you can find information on state laws on the DPAC website under ‘take action.’ And if your state isn’t addressing something that you know feel passionate about, consider contacting your representative! Can you think of an issue you think your state government should take on?