AG Ellison, GOP Sen. team up to host hearing about MN drug prices

A push to lower the cost of crucial medications is gaining new life after the measure was left out of the budget passed during the Minnesota legislature’s special session.

Attorney General Keith Ellison teamed up with Republican State Sen. Scott Jensen, a family physician, for a public discussion in Chaska Tuesday night.

The pair say they are looking for personal stories from patients to help their fight and to build momentum.

“We need folks to share their stories and to give us ideas--there’s a lot of good ones out there--tell us what’s on their mind,” said Ellison. “And part of it is to really generate public support for reform because if we get a nice wave going, we’re going to win.”

Jensen is a co-chair on Ellison’s advisory task force for lowering pharmaceutical drug prices.

“Minnesota has an obligation—a moral imperative—to solve this problem,” he said.

Jensen has recently been criticized for voting ‘no’ on last minute efforts to get an emergency insulin bill passed during the special session. He defended his choice Tuesday, claiming the bill had changed from its original form and that there were discrepancies that needed to be worked out.

Jensen told the audience he was committed to getting an insulin bill passed next session.

“We’re not going to go quietly into the night,” he added. “We’re going to get this done.”

Most of the people at the meeting were patients who have been forced to pay high prices for life-saving drugs, or who have been limited in their care due to cost.

Ellison said the advisory council includes patients, pharmacists, doctors and lawmakers.

“We’re not going to get this thing solved in isolation. We’re going to keep working this thing,” said Ellison.