MN Government Updates 04.15

Walz Signs Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act

 Governor Tim Walz today signed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act to provide relief to Minnesotans struggling to afford their insulin.

  • The bill contains emergency and long-term components, which take effect on July 1, 2020. Under the legislation, eligible individuals in urgent need of insulin can go to their pharmacy once in a 12-month period and receive a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 co-pay. There is an option for some applicants to receive a second 30-day supply in certain cases. Manufacturers must reimburse pharmacies for the insulin they dispense or send them replacement insulin at no cost.
  • The long-term program requires manufacturers to provide insulin to eligible individuals for up to one year, with the option to renew annually. Insulin will be available in 90-day increments for a co-pay of no more than $50.
  • The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act is named for 26-year-old Alec Smith, who was unable to afford the $1,300 monthly cost of insulin and diabetes supplies and died rationing insulin after aging out of his parents’ insurance.

Walz Daily Press Briefing

This afternoon, Governor Walz and administration officials held a conference call with reporters to update the public on state efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Walz

  • Governor Walz urged Minnesotans who need health insurance to sign up through MNsure. The special health insurance enrollment period deadline is Tuesday, April 21.
  • He also mentioned that while today is Tax Day, Minnesota is providing time until July 15 in accordance with federal government without penalty or interest to file and pay taxes.
  • Walz promoted the news about the FDA issuing approval for the production and use of a low-cost ventilator developed by the University of Minnesota, known as the Coventor. This ventilator is the first-of-its-kind authorized for use the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • When asked about how realistic his goal is to ramp up testing by May 4, the governor responded, “Testing is going to be a component on reopening up. We have the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. I am asking this team and this state to break that mold. I believe we can get 5,000 tests a day. I want that before May 4. This testing component is the surest way to get back to normalcy. We think we can get there with state partners. Minnesota can be the one example of where this can work. I’m going to push my team and researchers and Mayo Clinic to lean into this.”

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced that there is an additional 114 laboratory confirmed cases of 114 COVID-19. This brings the state total to 1,098 confirmed cases.
  • There have been an additional eight deaths – bring the state total to 87.
  • 197 patients are currently hospitalized – with 93 in the ICU.
  • The commissioner took a moment to address the work long-term care facilities are doing to implement infection control. She cited that fact that while 108 facilities have confirmed cases of COVID-19, only half of those facilities have only one case as of today.

Director Joe Kelly, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division

  • Director Kelly spoke about the state’s Severe Weather Awareness Week topics.
  • As it relates to flooding, Director Kelly implored Minnesotans to not ever drive through flood waters and to consider buying flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Tomorrow is annual Tornado Drill Day.
  • Most counties tomorrow will activate sirens at 1:45 PM.
  • Sirens will activate again tomorrow evening at 6:45 PM.

Commissioner Steve Grove, Department of Employment and Economic Development

  • Commissioner Grove announced that DEED has fully implemented the provision of the federal CARES Act which provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applicants.
  • He also announced that 464,513 unemployment applications have been submitted since March 16.
  • The commissioner also touched on the federal Paycheck Protection Program. With about 70% of that money having been called for nationwide, Minnesota has the third-highest loan dollars per capita than any state in the country.

Senate to Meet Tomorrow

The Senate is scheduled to meet in floor session tomorrow at 11:00 AM. One of the items the chamber is expected to take up is allowing restaurants and bars to sell wine and beer for takeout purposes in a limited capacity while the governor’s executive order on the closure of bars and restaurants to dine-in customers is in effect.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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