Reader Opinion: The time is now

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Diabetes is not a political position. Democrats and Republicans are both diabetics. Seven and-a-half million Americans live with insulin-dependent diabetes. As a pharmacist for 40 years, I understand the cost and care of diabetes. On a personal note, I am the father of two adult children, Quinn and Will, living with diabetes.

Between 1996-2018, insulin prices rose by 1,200 percent alone. Lobbyists for Big Pharma attended the Minnesota legislative session, spending large sums to persuade members of the GOP to kill the bill. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, admitted to “touch base” with the representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. He didn’t recollect any specific discussions regarding insulin, nor pressure to stall any legislation.

As for the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, a legislative measure to provide emergency insulin, a “clerical error” was cited by Senate Republicans for not being seen by committee and thus the bill died. How convenient. I have a hard time believing that didn’t influence the decision. Alec Smith, 26, was rationing his insulin, hoping that it would last. But it didn’t. He died. How many Minnesotans will have to die before this legislation is enacted? We can’t wait – not when one out of four diabetics are rationing life-sustaining insulin.

People are dying. A second young man, Jesimya David Scherer-Radcliffe, died this past week in the Twin Cities due to rationing insulin and a lack of health insurance. This is not a political issue. This is a human rights issue. It’s time for Senate Republicans to put aside their differences and join the Minnesota House and Governor Walz, who already support the bill.

The time is now.


Robert Nystrom


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