Kolkorst files bill capping insulin costs and joins bipartisan effort to fight electricity price gouging in wake of Winter Storm Uri

CONTRIBUTED REPORT
Posted 3/15/21

In an effort to lower healthcare costs for millions of Texas families, State Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) has filed SB 827 to implement a cap of $50 on the out-of-pocket monthly cost on …

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Kolkorst files bill capping insulin costs and joins bipartisan effort to fight electricity price gouging in wake of Winter Storm Uri

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In an effort to lower healthcare costs for millions of Texas families, State Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) has filed SB 827 to implement a cap of $50 on the out-of-pocket monthly cost on insulin for those covered by insurance. 

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, Kolkhorst said she was alarmed when the Biden Administration froze the Trump Administration's $35 cap for some Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. 

"Approximately 3 million Texans, nearly 11 percent of the population, live with diabetes many of whom depend on insulin to survive has diabetes," said Kolkhorst. “This is a matter of life and death and for many Texans, rising insulin prices have forced them to the breaking point. That's why I have taken action with the support of a broad bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to see that no Texan has to choose between paying for food or insulin. There have been no advances with insulin in decades and there is no need for high prices”

The price of insulin, a cheap and abundant medicine for over a century, has inexplicably increased nearly 1,000 percent over the last 25 years, making it more and more difficult for Texans to afford. Frequently those living with diabetes spend anywhere from $300 to over $1,000 per month on the cost of their supply of insulin, not including any additionally needed diabetes-related medical supplies. In addition, Texans living with diabetes face challenges to their health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges that increase their COVID risk for complications and death. To date, 14 states have implemented similar insulin copay caps that range from $25 to $100 dollars.

Kolkhorst also joined a bipartisan majority of the Texas Senate on March 15 to pass legislation aimed at skyrocketing utility costs caused by last month's failures within the Texas electric grid during Winter Storm Uri. During and after the storm, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) set the price of electricity at $9,000 per megawatt-hour, many times higher than normal billing rates.  

Independent market monitors have revealed that even after there was no longer a shortage of power available to the grid, the PUC maintained that price for approximately 32 more hours on February 18 and 19. This market manipulation ultimately led to billing errors for the price of the electricity. After the Commission's refusal to take any corrective action, the Texas Senate passed SB 2142 with the leadership of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the support of Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).

"I have heard from many constituents on this matter and as their state senator, I am committed to protecting Texas ratepayers from this expensive billing error," said Kolkhorst. "That's why I joined nearly every member of the Texas Senate to pass SB 2142 because we must make absolutely sure that bad behavior is not rewarded on the backs of Texas families."

Specifically, SB 2142 acknowledges that the commission has the authority to correct potentially billions of dollars in pricing errors under Section 39.151(d), Utilities Code. It also orders the commission to correct the mistake so that prices charged reflect the actual market price of wholesale power and ancillary services that would have been paid during that period absent ERCOT intervention to artificially set prices. 

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