As thousands of New Jersey residents with diabetes experience higher rates of serious complications from COVID-19, Assemblyman Thomas Giblin has introduced legislation that would implement an insulin assistance program for individuals who need help acquiring their medication.
Under the bill (A-4155), individuals without health insurance who are approved by the Commissioner of Human Services would receive assistance in acquiring their medicine.
The Department of Human Services would provide full reimbursement to participating pharmacies for prescription insulin products and related supplies on behalf of individuals in the assistance program.
“This pandemic has highlighted a number of vulnerabilities in our state, including the susceptibility of certain populations to severe health outcomes,” said Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic). “Nearly 45 percent of New Jersey residents who lost their lives due to COVID-19 also had an underlying condition of Diabetes Mellitus. This disease has put far too many of our residents at risk of dangerous complications – yet their chances might have been improved if their diabetes was well-managed.”
Experts have stated that poorly managed diabetes leads to high blood sugar, which can suppress the immune system and ultimately make it harder for the body to fight off infections. As such, a well-managed condition can decrease the risk of worse COVID-19 symptoms.
However, an estimated 1 in 4 Americans are unable to afford their insulin medication, which is key to treating and managing diabetes.
“Not only will COVID-19 continue to affect our state for the foreseeable future, but this outbreak has taught us the importance of preparing for the possibility of additional pandemics,” said Giblin. “By ensuring our residents have access to the medications they need to maintain good health, we can better prepare our entire state to face additional public health crises going forward.”
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.