Lehigh Valley

Pa. lawmaker crafting bill which aims to cap out-of-pocket costs for people with diabetes

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Judy Antry, who has diabetes, is experiencing sticker shock after finding out her insulin is $179 a box. Last month the same medication was $50.

"I am very frustrated because I take six other prescriptions, and they also go up. So I would be paying for two boxes of insulin a month almost $400," said Antry.

Pharmacist George Strauss at Family Prescription Center in Bethlehem says Antry isn't alone.

He says many of his diabetic customers are talking about making hard choices.

"As economic situations change and things like that and people have to make a choice between insulin in this case or medications in general or food," said Strauss.

"It's horrific it should not be happening," said Pennsylvania State Rep. Jeanne McNeill.

McNeill is following the lead of Colorado.

In May the Centennial state passed legislation capping the out-of-pocket cost for people with diabetes at $100 a month.

McNeill wants to do the same in Pennsylvania and has started drafting a bill. She says the Senate is also crafting a measure, but it will take time before anything is passed.

In the meantime, she's letting people know about free or reduced cost insulin programs offered by the three insulin makers Sanofi, Eli Lily and Norvo Nordisk.

But folks like Antry, who live on Social Security and a small pension, make too much money to qualify.

So Antry is scrambling.

"I had to call my insurance company, and then they have to fax my doctor and my doctor has to decide if she could find a lower-priced insulin and then called prescription in for me," said Antry.

But for some people the cost is still too high.

The high cost is forcing some Americans to travel to Canada to get their prescriptions filled or turning to the black market in order to afford the insulin they need.

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