By Kim Jones, Health Care for All WV, Statewide Coordinator
Last week, a family member asked me to stop by the pharmacy and get the new medication their doctor prescribed for their Type 2 diabetes. I was surprised that it was $55 after insurance. Up till now, they had gotten by on one medication to control their chronic illness. But their blood sugar had been going higher for months and couldn’t be controlled the same way. They used to only have to pay for lancets, test strips and one medication. Now their doctor had prescribed this new medicine, insulin, and a continuous glucose monitor. And with each new therapy, their out of pocket costs go up.
For three years the Health Care for All team and our allies have tried to make being a diabetic less financially draining. Two years ago, we worked with bipartisan legislators on the Insulin Affordability Bill. We were trying to get the price of insulin down for West Virginia families by putting a copay cap on it. The original bill tried to cap insulin copays at $25 a month, by the time the bill passed, it had been adjusted to $100 a month. This is still too much of a financial burden for most diabetics in the state. This year we are trying to get copays lowered to $35 for insulin, no more than $100 for the various supplies and $250 every two years for insulin pumps.
West Virginia leads the nation in the number of people who have diabetes, and we have the sad distinction of being the state where more people die of diabetes. Managing this dangerous disease shouldn’t be made worse by the outrageous costs associated with treatment. My family members and yours shouldn’t have to forgo certain treatments or medications because they put an unbearable burden on their families financially. And without proper treatment, the cost of diabetes is even higher, sometimes leading to kidney failure, heart attack or amputation.
Now is the time for much needed relief for our families. Please join us in appealing to the members of the West Virginia Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Ask them to support HB 4252. Let them know why this bill is important to our loved ones. Tell them the stories of how challenging it is for your family.
For more information follow this link: https://wvcag.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/HB-4252-fact-sheet.pdf.
And follow this link to contact your representatives: https://p2a.co/V05geFA
The next bill we are excited about is the Medicaid Buy-In Bill. In the years since COVID, we have seen a sharp decrease in people who are willing to go back to work. There are many reasons for this, but the most compelling is for those people who would have to lose their Medicaid insurance if they went back to work, or got a better job or more hours.
Private insurance and the out-of-pocket costs can be very expensive, as we all know. For the thousands and thousands of West Virginians who make minimum wage ($8.75 an hour), it is out of reach for those families to afford the basic necessities like rent and food, much less health coverage. And for many families, living without insurance is more detrimental than making less money. It can even be deadly to live without insurance if you have many conditions, like diabetes, that require expensive medicines, doctor visits and treatments.
HB 3001 is a solution to all of these problems. It would provide a way for families to buy-in to Medicaid. It is a way to keep their coverage, but pay far less for the deductibles, premiums and out-of-pocket costs. They can go back to work or make more money without losing the critical healthcare support they need. This is a win-win.
And it will not raise the costs for the state. It will all be paid for by federal funds. To find out more, follow this link: https://wvcag.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/HB-3001-fact-sheet.pdf
To take action, click here! https://p2a.co/lJDuS2I