The law is named for Alec Smith, an uninsured 26-year-old who died in 2017 after rationing his insulin.
A Big Pharma trade group is under fire for filing a federal lawsuit late Tuesday against Minnesota’s Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act mere hours before it took effect.
State Sen. Matt Little, a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), decried the move as “morally bankrupt” and “devoid of humanity.” In a Tuesday night tweet, Little also vowed: “I will spend my entire life fighting these soulless companies. No one should get sick or die from an inability to afford life-sustaining insulin.”
The law in question is named for an uninsured 26-year-old diabetic who died in 2017 of complications from rationing his insulin because he couldn’t afford the medicine and related supplies after aging off his mother’s health insurance. After state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure, DFL Gov. Tim Walz signed it into law this April.
As MPR News explains:
Under the law, people with diabetes who can’t afford the essential medicine will be able to get 30-day supplies with no more than a $35 copay. A separate income-based program is established for those with needs that extend beyond that.
Drug makers are required to participate. If they don’t, they would face a series of escalating fines.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The drug industry group claims the measure is unconstitutional, arguing in the complaint (pdf) that “a state cannot simply commandeer private property to achieve its public policy goals.”
An PhRMA spokesperson told Brian Bakst of MPR News that “we are not seeking an emergency ruling to block the law from going into effect, but we think the law is unconstitutional and that the court should strike it down after it hears our challenge.”
The advocacy group Public Citizen noted the tragic death of the law’s namesake and denounced PhRMA’s suit as “beyond unconscionable.”
what stage of capitalism is this? https://t.co/1P5csxGVet
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) July 1, 2020
Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec Smith’s mother, also took to Twitter to condemn PhRMA’s lawsuit and accuse drug companies of violating human rights.
Do you know what I think is unconstitutional? @PhRMA determining the value of my life, of your life of my sons life!! @PhRMA determining who lives and dies, I think that is unconstitutional. These companies are violating our human rights, that is unconstitutional. #insulin4all https://t.co/5SZeqNL9a8
— Nicole Smith-Holt #insulin4all (@NSmithholt12) July 1, 2020
Smith-Holt was not the only outraged parent of a diabetic. Saint Paul-based healthcare advocate Lija Greenseid wrote in a series of tweets that she felt “so deflated” and “duped by lawmakers,” calling out GOP state senators who she said “assured advocates that they had worked with the manufacturers to develop their plan.”
Phrma’s lawsuit against Alec’s Law really hurts. As the mom of a kid with Type 1 diabetes, I spent so much of my time for 2 years advocating for affordable insulin. I feel so deflated. We were duped by lawmakers. And people will continue to suffer and die.
— Lija Greenseid, PhD 😷 (@Lija27) July 1, 2020
GOP senators assured advocates that they had worked with the manufacturers to develop their plan. Advocates wanted a fee on the manufacturers and were told by GOP lawmakers that it would get hung up in court and not help anyone. Well, here we are anyway with their plan. 😞
— Lija Greenseid, PhD 😷 (@Lija27) July 1, 2020
GOP state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka expressed disappointment with the suit in a written statement reported by MPR News. “Senate Republicans remain committed to providing emergency insulin for those in crisis no matter what happens with this poorly timed lawsuit,” Gazelka said.
State Attorney General Keith Ellison (DFL) tweeted Wednesday morning in response to PhRMA’s “attack” on the law that “we look forward to defending the people of Minnesota in court against this morally repugnant behavior.”
Lindsey Graham announces Amy Coney Barrett hearings — full Senate vote could occur days before the election
Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced on Saturday that confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett would commence on October 12th.
Graham made the announcement on Fox News, hours after Trump officially nominated Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Shortly after Graham made the announcement on Fox News, the Judiciary Committee confirmed the timeline, CNN's Phil Mattingly reported.
PBS Newshour correspondent Lisa Desjardins did the math on confirmation hearings beginning on October 12th and concluded the final Senate vote could occur on October 28th or 29th -- which are the Wednesday and Thursday immediately preceding the Novermber 2nd election.
Trump whines press didn’t cover the ‘two Nobel Prizes’ — that he didn’t win
The leader of the free world spoke of the Nobel Peace Prize as if he had repeatedly won the award.
Trump made the complaints he has not received the recognition he thinks he deserves during a campaign rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
"They didn't cover two Nobel Prizes," Trump says he told first lady Melania Trump. "I got two in one week, did you ever hear of that?"
Trump received two nominations, he has never won a Nobel Peace Prize.
"And my only complaint is, I should have gotten about seven or eight, because if you knew some of the other things -- some of the other things I have done much better," Trump argued, despite having not won the award a single time. "I should have gotten seven."
Portland police search for white man who kicked Black journalist in the head at ‘Proud Boys’ rally
On Saturday, the far-right group the "Proud Boys" held a rally at Delta Park in Portland, Oregon.
Zane Sparling, of The Portland Tribune documented the scene, with many attendees wearing militia dress.
Sparling captured video of a man pushing a Black journalist to the ground and kicking him in the head:
Man pushes live-streamer to the ground and kicks him in the face at Proud Boys is rally in Portland pic.twitter.com/SAdHShqir3