Thank you for tuning in to another week at the capitol. This week proved to be a busy one, with The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act passing the Senate, the coronavirus response bill, and many days on the hill.
I value serving our neighbors in District 42 very highly, and I so appreciate when folks take the time to come visit me in St. Paul to advocate on a variety of issues. But everyone’s health and safety must come first. Given the nature of COVID-19 and the advice from experts, including the Minnesota Department of Health and guidance from Senate leaders, I will not be scheduling any constituent visits for the near future, and will be making other arrangements or postponing currently scheduled meetings. Accessibility to your state legislator is a priority to me, and I appreciate your understanding regarding this difficult issue Access to the senate offices will be limited in order to protect staff and others. I am happy to speak with you via phone or email in the near future. If you have questions, please call my office at (651) 296-5537 or my personal cell phone at (612) 600-5778.
Insulin affordability passes Senate, work remains
The cost of insulin has tripled in the last 10 years, and three insulin manufacturers control over 90% of the insulin market in the United States. In the last 12 months, those three companies have reported $84.1 billion in revenue and $18.5 billion in profits.
We passed legislation this week that creates an emergency insulin program and requires manufacturers to make or maintain patient assistance programs for ongoing support. This bill was a step in the right direction and will be discussed further in conference committee. (HF 3100/SF 3164)
Governor signs coronavirus response bill
This week, Governor Walz signed into law a bill appropriating nearly $21 million in funds to be added to Minnesota’s public health response contingency account. The funds will help support disease investigation, provide information to the public, coordinate statewide response activities, and conduct laboratory analysis. The legislation was passed urgently and with unanimous bipartisan support.
In addition to signing the funding bill into law this week, the governor has also activated the joint emergency operations center to work on the issue as it develops. Executive branch agencies are also prepared to move forward with further contingency plans, including hiring additional health care professionals and determining what that process would look like. The message surrounding coronavirus this week continues to be planning, not panicking. The state has expected cases of the illness to increase and that is why this legislation passed swiftly and with bipartisan support. Minnesota is committed to being as prepared as possible for dealing with this disease in a proactive and responsible manner.
In the best interest of senators, staff, and the public, beginning Monday, March 16, there will be limited access to senate office suites and staff areas to the public by appointment only. Appointments will be limited to no more than two guests in a senate office at a time. Larger groups may still be accommodated in certain public conference rooms or in general areas of the building.
State health officials are readying for a new phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in Minnesota, where five people have tested positive for the illness. The case serves as a reminder of the core preventative measures being recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health right now: stay home if you have a cold or flu-like symptoms, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve, wash your hands, and avoid touching your face. With these preventative measures practiced individually and a fully funded public health response contingency account at the state level, Minnesota is prepared to handle the coronavirus effectively and efficiently. (SF 3813)