AUGUSTA — Patient advocates Lori Dumont, Miriam Wolfe, and Sabrina Burbeck will testify today in front of the Maine state legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee in favor of a package of bills aimed at taking on drug companies and lowering prescription drug prices for Mainers. The bill package, Making Health Care Work for Maine, was introduced last month by Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, along with Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli, Senator Cathy Breen, and Senator Ned Claxton.
Lori Dumont, from Brewer, will share that when her brother, a taxi driver, couldn’t afford his $750-per-month insulin, he was found unresponsive in his home and barely survived after a month in the intensive care unit.
“All of this trauma and financial distress could have been avoided if insulin were affordable,” Dumont will say to the committee. “It has been almost 100 years since insulin was discovered, and there is still no affordable option for people like my brother.”
Miriam Wolfe of York was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and was told by her doctor that she will need Remicade infusions, which are priced at about $3,500 per month.
“I only receive $840 per month from Social Security… I don’t know how I’m going to pay these bills,” Wolfe will explain. “The entire package of bills, including LD 675, 1171, 673, and 120, is pivotal to curb drug prices and hold Big Pharma accountable so that patients like me can afford the drugs we desperately need.”
The Making Health Care Work for Maine package includes the following legislation:
- LD 675, led by Senator Claxton, would clamp down on unsupported price increases by fining pharmaceutical manufacturers that increase drug prices without justification.
- LD 1117, led by Senate President Jackson, would prohibit price gouging on generic and off-patent drugs and give the state attorney general authority to bring penalties against drug companies that refuse to lower prices.
- LD 673, led by Senator Breen, would create an insulin safety net program to provide emergency access to affordable insulin for Mainers needing immediate relief.
- LD 686, led by Senate Majority Leader Vitelli, would strengthen prescription drug pricing transparency by requiring the Maine Health Data Organization to share information collected from drug companies with the public.
- LD 120, led by Senate President Jackson, would establish the Office of Affordable Health Care to help examine the factors contributing to rising prices.
Sabrina Burbeck’s 8-year-old son, Dakota, lives with type 1 diabetes and relies on insulin to survive. Humalog, the type of insulin that Dakota is prescribed, is priced at $350 for a month’s supply.
“No mother should have to worry if the life of her bright, loving, and curious child will be cut short because the price of their medication spikes overnight or they simply can’t afford it one month,” Burbeck, from Old Town, will share. “There are so many families like mine. Mainers all over the state are crippled by the cost of their prescription drugs.”
Burbeck also spoke at last month’s press conference, where President Jackson, D-Aroostook, Senate Majority Leader Vitelli, D-Sagadahoc, Senator Breen, D-Cumberland, and Senator Claxton, D-Androscoggin, unveiled the health care package.
The hearing and Dumont, Wolfe, and Burbeck’s testimonies can be watched here at 10:00 AM ET.
Following the hearing, the bill package will be subject to a working session in the coming weeks.