Gov. Walz weighs options after emergency insulin left out of budget bills

When lawmakers passed the state’s budget bill, one glaring issue for those in need of insulin was left unaddressed.

The Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Bill would have guaranteed access to insulin for Minnesotans, even if they couldn’t afford it.

There were versions or solutions in both the House and Senate Health and Human Services budget bills, but when it was all said and done, the cost of insulin was not addressed.

The fingers were still being pointed in the final hours of the budget sessions as Minnesota lawmakers failed to agree on the future of the insulin measure.

It aimed to address the rising cost of insulin, but it failed to make the final bill.

Now, five days later, Senate Republicans say they want to take another swing, asking Gov. Tim Walz to haul lawmakers back to St. Paul for another special session.

“I’m listening on this, but I think after-the-fact armchair quarterbacking when there were ample opportunities to get this in and there were ample overtures to put it in and then not to get it, and then to complain about the way that we actually got these bills done, that part rubs me a little bit wrong,” said Walz about the issue.

The House passed legislation allowing diabetics who are uninsured or on high-deductible plans to get insulin.

Drug companies would pay for that through a fee. The Senate passed a scaled-down version, but when a final deal emerged from secret budget talks, none of it made the cut.

“That’s a shame that that did not get included,” Walz said. “I think that’s what happens when we don’t get down to business and do some of those things earlier. I would encourage use to do that, so we’ll see.”

In the final hours of the session, Senate Republicans defeated an amendment on insulin 34-33.

State Sen. Carla Nelson, of Rochester, was the one Republican to vote for it.

“I can’t determine why it wasn’t there, but I was not going to vote against that,” she said. “I believed it could be a matter of life and death and I just could not vote for not doing what I thought was necessary.”

The Governor hasn’t closed the door on a special session and says he’s considering executive action. He says he’ll sign the Health and Human Services Funding Bill without insulin price help by week’s end.

The final bill did say that if a person has an expired prescription their pharmacist could refill it, but there is nothing about price adjustments.

Walz also raised the possibility of taking executive action.