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COVID-19 Update #5: Unemployment, Easing Processes and Insulin
Even though COVID-19 is foremost on our minds, the House DFL is still fighting for popular legislation that Minnesotans need. We are not forgetting our promises to pass legislation that is needed to save the lives of our loved ones.
House Passes Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act
Yesterday, the House voted to pass the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act. After many months of negotiations with Republicans, we finally reached a bipartisan consensus on this important legislation. I'm deeply grateful for the tireless advocacy of those who suffered the most at the hands of the pharmaceutical companies, and who kept up the pressure on lawmakers to get this across the finish line. The final version of the bill ensures those who urgently need a supply of insulin can get one and will require pharmaceutical manufacturers – who have made enormous profits off of the drug as its price has skyrocketed – to reimburse pharmacies for these emergency supplies. The legislation also provides relief for those who need assistance on a longer-term basis by requiring drug makers to create a patient assistance program. If they don't comply, the companies could be fined up to $3.6 million for the first year, doubling in the second year. You can read the legislation here
While I'm pleased that this compromise delivers overdue help for those people with diabetes who need it, this legislation is not perfect. I am disappointed that the legislation has a strict ID requirement which can potentially leave out some Minnesotans, including those in our immigrant community, tribal members, and some students who don’t possess a driver’s license or state ID card. My House DFL colleagues and I remain committed to ensuring everyone has access to health care they can afford, including lower prescription drug prices.
House Passes Further COVID-19 Legislation
Yesterday, we also approved another package of legislation to aid in the state's response to COVID-19 – the fourth since the pandemic emerged – which contains several proposals to provide needed flexibility and assistance to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill helps Minnesotans execute wills, allows local governments to meet remotely, suspends certain deadlines and expiration dates, allows marriage applications to be submitted without the need to appear in person, expands use of telemedicine, gives the Department of Health authority to set up alternative health care facilities, and more. The legislation can be found here
Update for Unemployment Information
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced today that the agency has fully implemented the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits for eligible applications. Individuals who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and believe they are eligible for extended benefits under the PEUC should login to their online account at uimn.org
for additional details. The final component of the CARES Act to be implemented is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will provide unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, gig workers and others who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits. Please apply if you believe you should receive benefits.
Stay in Touch
Please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-3533. If you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who wants to receive updates about the Legislature, let them know they can subscribe to my email list here
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. It's an honor to represent our community. Please stay in touch.
State Representative MN House District 51A