'It is done': Gov. Walz signs long-awaited emergency insulin bill into law

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act into law Wednesday, establishing an emergency insulin program for the state. 

The state House of Representatives and the Senate passed the long-awaited deal on emergency insulin on Tuesday after a year marked by frustration, delays and finger-pointing. 

The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act ensures that Minnesotans who cannot afford their insulin and are facing an emergency need can access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for a $35 co-pay. Eligible Minnesotans for the program include those who are uninsured, under-insured, receiving Medicare and do not have access to low copays. 

Insulin manufacturers will participate in the program and could be fined up to $3.6 million a year, doubling in the second year, for non-compliance. 

The legislation is named after Alec Smith, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 26 when he aged off of his parents’ health insurance and was forced to ration his insulin because he could no longer afford its high cost. 

His mother, Nicole Smith-Holt, watched lawmakers debate the legislation Tuesday from the House Gallery, which was mostly empty because of concerns about the coronavirus. 

"I knew that eventually this would happen," she said afterward, fighting tears as she spoke with reporters. "A little voice in my heart--I think Alec was telling me not to stop, that it will happen."

Walz used multiple pens to sign the bill on Wednesday, telling Smith-Holt that he is sending one of the pens to her, after he disinfects it of course.