×
X logo

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)

You may opt-out anytime by clicking "unsubscribe" from the newsletter or from your account.

West Virginia House of Delegates Votes To Limit Co-Pays for Insulin

Photo by W.Va. Legislative Photography - Del. Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, praises a bill lowering copay costs for insulin and other diabetes devices and supplies.

CHARLESTON — Two weeks into the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers are already passing bills from one chamber to the other, with bills dealing with lowering insulin costs and mine land reclamation passing Wednesday.

In the House of Delegates, members passed House Bill 4252, a bill that reduces the co-pay on insulin and medical devices used by people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The bill passed 94-3 and heads to the state Senate. Only delegates Laura Kimble, R-Harrison; Shannon Kimes, R-Wood, and Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, voted no.

HB 4252 would amend a previous law, allowing copays for a 30-day supply of insulin covered by prescriptions to drop from a maximum of $100 to $35.

HB 4252 makes changes to a law passed by the West Virginia Legislature in 2020. House Bill 4543 first set a hard cap of $100 on a 40-day supply of insulin.

Unlike the 2020 bill, HB 4252 would put a $100 cap on cost sharing for devices used by diabetics, such as blood glucose test strips, glucometers and continuous glucose meters, lancets and lancing devices and insulin syringes. It would also put a $250 cap on cost sharing for insulin pumps used to inject insulin at programmed intervals.

“This now includes devices which are key to diabetes,” said House Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell. “The old days are gone. We now have continuous glucose monitors. You can now get your glucose level on your phone. It’s very common, but obviously technology has a cost. This is an attempt to particularly help our families, because our families are struggling with these costs.”

At the time, an estimated 240,000 West Virginias had either type 1 or type 2 diabetes with an estimated 65,000 with undiagnosed diabetes. Medical costs attributed to diabetes were more than $2.5 billion annually in West Virginia.

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who traveled to Canada in 2019 to research ways of gaining access to less expensive insulin supplies. That work resulted in the passage of the 2020 bill. Fleischauer said she was pleased to see continued work on lowering the price of insulin.

“With passage, if we can convince the Senate to do this as well, we can really save lives,” Fleischauer said. “We have the highest death rate from diabetes in the whole country. Let’s do something about it and make this state a better place for all of our citizens.”

In the state Senate, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1, creating a mine insurance mutual company. The bill passed 32-0 with two absent or not voting. It now heads to the House for further consideration.

SB 1, a bill whose lead sponsor is Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, would create a mutual insurance company for coal mine operators for coal mine reclamation bonds modeled after similar efforts to privatize medical liability and workers’ compensation coverage.

“This would assist coal companies in an economic downturn in the coal industry to comply with the Surface Mining Reclamation Act,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Eric Tarr, R-Putnam.

Blair, leaving his place at the podium to speak on the floor, said the company that services mine reclamation bonds holds more than 60% of the bonds, creating a potential $1 billion to $4 billion liability for the state if that company fails.

“If something were to happen in another state that blows up that bond company, it puts the coal industry and the State of West Virginia at risk,” Blair said. “This bill will actually help protect West Virginia. It would be like an insurance policy for our mining industry.”

The bill would create a mine reclamation mutual to allow coal companies to pool together to cover the costs of mine reclamation bonding. The new mutual insurance company would be seeded with $50 million in state tax dollars to get it started.

Supporters of the bill said it was aimed at addressing the concern of mine operators about insolvent coal mine permit holders being unable to meet their obligations for mine reclamation bonds required by the state. The state is required to pay any shortfalls through the Special Reclamation fund, leaving taxpayers holding the bag for failed mine operators and raising bond amounts for other operators.

“If we don’t do this, it’s just a roulette wheel. We have no idea what’s going to happen,” Blair said. “This provides a voluntary ability for our mining industry to be able to purchase these reclamation bonds and be able to continue providing the vital baseload energy supply that coal does.”

So far, 18 bills have passed the House, 29 bills have passed the Senate, and two bills have completed legislative action and await the signature of Gov. Jim Justice: Senate Bill 8, making technical changes to code dealing with the state’s savings and investment programs; and Senate Bill 191, allowing poll workers to work full and half days.

NEWSLETTER

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

COMMENTS

Starting at $4.73/week.

Subscribe Today