A law in Illinois set to take effect on Friday, Jan. 1, caps prices for insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply.
It is among the new measures in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin set to take effect at the start of 2021.
Typically, Illinois has the lion’s share of such measures among the three states, as it often sets the start date on new measures passed by lawmakers for the first day of the following year.
On the first day of 2020, for example, more than 250 new laws hit the books.
But for the start of 2021, the total is down markedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted state lawmakers this year.
“We were in session just a few days,” said Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport. “So it was pretty lean this year.”
One bill that was passed caps the price at $100 for a 30-day supply of insulin.
Chesney said he was proud to “cross the aisle” and join Democratic supporters of the bill.
“There are some people in my party who believe the free market principles were being restricted,” he said. “But if I can lower drug costs for people who need insulin — and that’s what this piece of legislation did — I will. It wasn’t perfect and could have been broader. You’d like to apply savings across the board for all medications.”
This is a familiar piece of legislation in the tri-state area, as a bipartisan group of Dubuque County state lawmakers have pushed a very similar bill for the last two sessions.
One bill was introduced in the 2019 session by Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, and Iowa Rep. Andy McKean, then a Republican, with a companion in the state Senate from Iowa Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville. It would have authorized a pharmacist to refill an insulin prescription in an emergency without prescriber authorization. That passed the Senate but was stalled in the House of Representatives.
This year, the same group was joined by Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, in an attempt to pass a bill with a $100 price cap for 30 days.
That passed the House, but not the Senate, before the session came to a screeching halt, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Here legislators are attempting to regulate an industry that is price gouging vulnerable people,” James said. “With costs of producing insulin being so low, it is not reasonable for costs to be so high.”
Koelker told the Telegraph Herald that since the session’s end, she and other lawmakers have met with industry lobbyists and other groups to come up with more of an omnibus bill for Iowa.
“We haven’t agreed on the final language,” she said. “But I’m looking at it being an educational tool also to resources that are out there. That and emergency caps and some cost caps for those in need of the services and prescriptions.”
More in Illinois
New Year’s Day also will see the minimum wage across the state of Illinois tick up to $11 per hour in that state’s phased-in increase to $15 per hour.
Chesney said he opposed that original legislation, passed in 2019, due not to its spirit, but to what he sees as its outsized impact on rural Illinois.
“Fifteen dollars an hour means something completely different in Chicago than it does in Jo Daviess County,” he said. “This is going to be an additional expense that’s going to be absorbed by the employer in the midst of a pandemic.”
Another law hitting the books this week is one that extends an existing program for keeping the addresses of domestic violence victims confidential to also include victims of sexual assault and stalking.
In Wisconsin, most laws take effect when they are signed by the governor, unless indicated otherwise in their language.
Often, those that do wait until Jan. 1 of the next year to be enacted have to do with taxation.
For instance, on Friday, assessors will have to notify property owners that assessors cannot change the assessed value of a property based solely on that property’s recent sale.
Another rule taking effect provides an exemption to a tax imposed on properties owned by telephone companies if that property is being used to provide broadband access.
Similarly, in Iowa, laws are most often enacted when signed.
But part of a bill that reduced the excise tax on gasoline with at least E-15 ethanol levels included a provision that required that reduction be based on a period of review beginning on Friday. The bill was lauded by ethanol producers statewide when passed after the Iowa Legislature reconvened in June after its monthslong hiatus due to COVID-19.