Walz signs affordable insulin bill

Close up of a person holding a bottle of insulin.
A patient holds a vial of insulin during a news conference outside a pharmacy in Windsor, Ont. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a compromise measure Wednesday a day after the Legislature passed a bill to guarantee affordable insulin by wide margins.
Carlos Osorio | AP 2019

Minnesota now has one of the nation’s first programs to guarantee access to affordable insulin.

Gov. Tim Walz signed a compromise measure Wednesday a day after the Legislature passed it by wide margins.

After the law takes effect in July, people struggling to afford the medication will have access to 30-day supplies with a small co-pay. Those with deeper financial issues can tap into a long-term program. Drugmakers that don’t make affordable insulin available will face steep fines.

Walz said the law is a bright spot in a tough time and came from considerable negotiation.

Governor Walz on computer screen
Gov. Tim Walz took part in a virtual signing ceremony of the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act on Wednesday.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

He used a virtual signing ceremony to pay tribute to the work of those who saw the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act across the finish line. The legislation is named after a young man who died while rationing insulin in 2017.

After signing the bill Walz held up a personalized sharpie next to a can of Clorox wipes. He promised to get the pen to Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec Smith’s mother.

"I will be disinfecting this pen and getting it to you," he said, a nod to the other health crisis front and center.

“I truly believe Alec was watching and working some magic to make this happen,” Nicole Smith-Holt said. “I often think of him as a sacrificial lamb in this situation. I think of him giving his life so that others could benefit. So that others could see that insulin affordability is truly a crisis and something must be done.”

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.