Letter: North Dakota can be a leader by implementing an insulin price cap

"It is time to take a stand against the supply chain profiting or playing games with a 100-year-old discovery that is now unattainable, costing the lives of financially-strapped individuals and families," Horace, N.D. resident Danelle Johnson writes.

Letter to the editor FSA

Call it truth, call it fact, call it a lie, but it is a reality.

When you know someone forced to pay or die, and they couldn’t pay, you will understand my advocacy for access and affordability of insulin and bare minimum supplies, not insulin pumps or Continuous Glucose Monitors.

Senate Bill 2140 in the North Dakota Legislature would impose a price cap, as 23 other states and Washington D.C. have done to sustain life and delay the onset of imminent complications such as kidney failure, amputations, blindness and stroke.

SB 2140 is my third legislative session attempt to bring discussions, collaborate for solutions and raise awareness and education about the reality that is occurring in our state and our nation. It has been five years and counting already in North Dakota. Our daughter Danika and I have also been federal advocates since 2019. There have been no changes implemented at any level that cover all ages of insulin-dependent diabetics regardless of their insurance situation. An epidemic of 64,000 people are diagnosed every year with Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes, over one-third of them will be adults with this disease for life.

You may hear and possibly even believe these partial truths:


  • The bill won’t help that many people
  • The bill will pass costs on to other members
  • North Dakota residents don’t support a price cap or mandate ever
  • This won’t fix the underlying issue
  • This is a slippery slope for every chronic illness
  • Dangerous precedent if we don’t follow the 2 years North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System implementation first.
  • We must study the costs
  • Insurance company “X” is already doing this
  • We must allow the free market to work
  • Businesses don’t want higher health insurance costs
  • This bill will reduce research and development of new drugs

I challenge anyone to care enough about their community, to make a commitment to have the courage to discuss these with me in the context of insulin therapy in a manipulated market, with no generic option available, with 100% proven effectiveness, why insurers don’t implement it on all insurance plans, the fact that insulin user’s rebates are subsidizing health plan premiums of all members already to a significant degree, and the result without it being accessible to everyone is imminent and swift death, not to mention significant loss in employee productivity, financial ruin of families, mental health issues, some that may lead to addiction, suicide, homelessness, crime to support cost of life saving insulin, overuse of social programs like Medicaid for assistance because they see no other way. I believe resolving root cause issues, lessens the burden in other areas.
Snow isn't white. Snow is totally clear. It is not transparent but rather translucent, meaning light passes through indirectly. Ice crystals cause it to diffuse reflection of the whole light spectrum which results in snowflakes appearing to be white. See, you have to know the whole story.

Automakers and tobacco giants spoke against seat belt safety laws and smoking bans, in testimony contrary to what we now know was good for the safety and health of the general population, regardless of economic status. It is time to take a stand against the supply chain profiting or playing games with a 100-year-old discovery that is now unattainable, costing the lives of financially-strapped individuals and families. If I hear, read or see one more complaint about inflation, the cost of eggs, milk, meat, groceries or gas…I can’t believe how those items of choice are of bigger concern than insulin, which is needed by millions of people. The cost of insulin has risen 1,200% since 1996 when Eli Lilly introduced Humalog at $20 a vial. It has since had 34 price hikes with no substantial changes and costs at least $275 a vial. The two other main insulin manufacturers' insulin products have also seen price hikes, which is why all three companies have been involved in a class action lawsuit since 2019.

North Dakota, you can be a leader and take a stand on this, or at least meet all people somewhere in the middle, because it is truly costing all of us in more ways than most people realize.

Danelle Johnson is a resident of Horace, N.D.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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