Just two semesters away from graduating, Kathryn Poe already has plenty on her plate with classes alone. But as if that wasn’t enough, she is also championing a bill in the Ohio Legislature for more affordable insulin.
This bill, number 232 in the Senate (SB 232) and 387 in the House of Representatives (HB 387), was introduced in November and is designed to cap copays for all kinds of insulin at $100. A group called T1International is fighting for affordable insulin across the nation, and Poe has become their liaison to the Ohio Legislature through her work with this bill.
Poe first got involved with T1International after she became type 1 diabetic, and therefore insulin dependent, for a short time after receiving a bone marrow transplant and found it “super super difficult to be diabetic.”
After no longer needing insulin, she merely kept the extra but paid it no mind until she saw that people her age were dying from needing to ration their insulin because of its high cost. Their copays were $400 or more a month after insurance, and because of the high cost, they had to take lower amounts than they were prescribed or skip insulin altogether.
Poe was extremely upset and knew she needed to do something, so she turned to research.
A bill similar to HB 387 had recently become law in Colorado so, in Poe’s own words, she “took the law, rewrote it for Ohio Revised Code, and started sending it to lawmakers.” She sent it to about 40 lawmakers, including the heads of healthcare for both parties in both houses.
HB 387 is a one-and-a-half page document, which you can access easily online. The entire first page is clarifying terms used in the bill itself, which makes up only one paragraph of the document. It clearly lays out exactly what it will do—cap the copay for a 30-day supply of any type of insulin at $100.
HB 387 is one piece of a four-part package of other diabetes-related bills. One provides more diabetes screening for minority communities, and another allows for more transparent drug pricing. The last in the package is for a Diabetic Keto Acidosis Day, which would bring awareness to what happens when someone who needs insulin doesn’t get it, like the people who need to ration due to costs.
Poe’s next step with HB 387 is her plan to give a sponsor testimony in the Health Committee in the hopes of a second hearing, called a proponent hearing. This is a vital step in getting a bill out of its committee and onto the floor. But not every bill that gets introduced gets this second hearing.
Anyone interested in helping with this bill, or the others packaged with it, can call your representatives and senators and ask for a second hearing. You can find who your congressperson is in your hometown at ohiosenate.gov or ohiohouse.gov.
If you want to take the next step, Poe has asked to “please stalk Scott Lipps,” the head of the House Health Committee. You can reach him by calling 1-800-282-0253, asking for Chairman Lipps, and telling him you want the second hearing. But, per Poe’s request, harass him kindly—he’s a nice guy trying to help.
Poe is a contributor for the Chimes.