Northlanders in need of insulin weigh in on Minnesota Insulin Safety Net Program

Updated: July 01, 2020 10:54 PM

The Alec Smith Affordability Act went into effect Wednesday, allowing Minnesotans in urgent need of insulin to access the life-saving drug through their pharmacy. This was a huge milestone for the 330 thousand Minnesotans who rely on insulin to stay alive, including Logan Crowser and Sammy Conklin of Duluth.


“It’s unfortunate that situations like Alec Smith and I'm sure a lot of other diabetics had to have that happen to them,” Crowser said. “Thank you to Alec Smith and every other diabetic family and diabetic independent person that has sacrificed.”

Crowser said the program has been a long time coming—noting that he doesn’t personally know life without diabetes.

“I was diagnosed around my third birthday,” Crowser said. “This coming October, it will be 22 years.”

Despite being on his parent’s insurance plan and working more than one job, Crowser said the cost of insulin and other supplies to manage diabetes has been hard. For this reason, he is hopeful about the Alec Smith Affordability Act.

“It makes me hopeful that we're moving in a direction that makes it more accessible for everyone,” Crowser said.

Conklin, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12 echoed these words. She said that the Alec Smith Affordability Act would provide her the opportunity to obtain insulin for the first time in months.

“Financially, it gets hard, it’s not cheap. Sometimes you have to choose between buying groceries and buying insulin and nobody should have to do that,” Conklin said.

Conklin too, is still on her mom’s insurance plan and works more than one job, but said it is difficult to make ends meet.

“Before insurance, it is a few hundred dollars and I just don’t think that’s reasonable for something that you need or you could die,” Conklin said.

As a result of this, Conklin said she was disappointed when she heard that a trade group is suing to overturn the new program.

“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” Conklin said.

Crowser also expressed disappointment in the group’s decision.

“With big pharma suing Minnesota, that's difficult to hear because that just really reiterates the point that our world is run by money rather than morals,” Crowser said.

Dr. Darin Ruanpeng, Endocrinologist at St. Luke’s emphasized the importance of insulin for those with diabetes.

“It is a life saving medication,” Ruanpeng said.

Ruanpeng is hopeful this program will help some of her patients who have voiced their concerns about the cost of insulin.

“I think if we have this safety net and patients can get emergency insulin just to buy time for them to figure out what to do, I think it’s really helpful,” Ruanpeng said.

Someday, Crowser and Conklin hope insulin will be more affordable for everyone, everywhere.

Those who would like to apply for the Alec Smith Affordability Act program can do so here.

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