Building on an earlier effort to make EpiPens affordable to young people, the House on Tuesday unanimously approved expanding that insurance coverage for the lifesaving autoinjectors to all Delawareans, regardless of age.
More commonly known by its brand name EpiPen, an epinephrine autoinjector is an emergency treatment used when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. People with allergies to foods containing dairy, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts or other items often carry an EpiPen with them in the event that they are exposed.
However, the cost of EpiPens has spiked dramatically during the past 15 years, and because they have a shelf life of about a year, patients must replace them regularly.
Sponsored by Rep. Kim Williams, House Bill 54 would require insurance plans regulated under Delaware law to provide coverage for epinephrine autoinjectors to all residents, and to offer a version of EpiPens on its lowest tier of approved medicines. This would make the autoinjectors more affordable, reducing any out-of-pocket expenses and ensuring the devices are accessible to everyone via their insurance. Currently, the state requires all such health insurance plans to offer this coverage for those 18 and younger.
In 2021, Rep. Williams successfully shepherded House Bill 95 through the General Assembly, which made EpiPens more affordable and available to minors. That policy began in 2022. Coverage for adults would begin January 2024 under HB 54, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.
|House Bill 54 – Expanding Insurance Coverage of Epinephrine Injectors||Currrent Status – Passed House 39-0-2. Sent to the Senate.|
|House Sponsors – Williams, Dorsey Walker, Minor-Brown, Baumbach, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Johnson, Morrison, Neal, Osiensi, Wilson-Anton // Briggs King||Senate Sponsors – McBride, Gay, Hansen, Hoffner, Huxtable, Poore, Walsh|
|House Yes Votes – Baumbach Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Heffernan Johnson Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Moore Morrison Neal Osienski Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams Wilson-Anton // Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hensley Hilovsky Morris Postles Ramone Short Shupe Smith Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes –||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting – Bolden, Parker-Selby||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
“We have seen how much drug prices have gone up in recent years, forcing many of our constituents to make unthinkable decisions about whether they can afford this lifesaving drug. It costs less than a Capriotti’s bobbie to manufacture an EpiPen, but a two-pack of EpiPens can cost more than a car payment,” said Rep. Williams. “We made the commitment to our young people two years ago that no one should be priced out of obtaining these autoinjectors to prevent them from going into anaphylaxis. Now we’ve said that all Delawareans should receive the same protection and coverage.”
“Epi-pens are the only medication that will save the life of a person suffering from anaphylaxis, but they are among the most expensive medications on the market,” said Sen. Sarah McBride, Senate prime sponsor of HB 54. “No one who is at risk of a severe allergic reaction should forgo carrying an Epi-pen simply because they are too expensive. This legislation will undoubtedly save lives.”