A Minnesota Republican lawmaker was called “dangerous” and “reckless” for suggesting that diabetics purchase a cheaper insulin from Walmart instead of rationing the newer and more expensive analog insulin products.
State Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) posted a video to Facebook in late September showing himself purchasing a vial of insulin for $25 at Walmart without a prescription.
“I sit on the Health and Human Services Committee at the Minnesota Capitol and I hear testimony about people rationing their insulin. That shouldn’t need to happen when there’s affordable options out there. It’s so much more important to get this information out to the public instead of making this some kind of campaign issue,” Munson said in the video.
The video was released ahead of the Minnesota House’s “mini-session,” which kicked off Wednesday in Winona. The House held hearings last week on programs to provide cheaper insulin options, and Gov. Tim Walz said in June that he’s open to calling a special session to address the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act, which failed to pass during the most recent legislative session.
Democrats and Republicans alike were quick to criticize Munson, pointing out that the older version of insulin Munson promoted is less predictable and can cause potentially dangerous changes to blood sugar levels.
“Representative Munson’s recent video encouraging people in need of insulin to go to Walmart was reckless and minimized the seriousness of the situation in which many families find themselves,” State Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls) said in a statement. “House Republicans do not support this reckless advice, Representative Munson is not a member of the House Republican Caucus and does not speak for House Republicans. Furthermore, he is not a doctor and it was wrong of him to attempt to give medical advice.”
“When it comes to your health care: listen to your doctor, not a politician,” added Kresha, who’s also a politician.
The editorial board of The Mankato Free Press then published an editorial calling Munson’s insulin video “dangerous.”
“When state Rep. Jeremy Munson posted a Facebook video recently about the availability of cheaper insulin on the shelf at Walmart, he entered dangerous, irresponsible territory. The Lake Crystal Republican’s shopping trip has the potential of encouraging diabetics to cut corners instead of listening to their medical providers,” the board wrote.
Munson responded to the accusations in a Wednesday op-ed, noting that the American Diabetes Association agrees with his position.
“I’m strongly in favor of insulin analogs, just not so that the conversation goes so far to say, ‘You’re going to kill people if you make them use those inferior insulins,’” Matt Peterson, vice president of the American Diabetes Association, told The Star Tribune. “It is far better to use the older insulins with care than it is to either withhold or even reduce the analog insulin.”
Munson called The Mankato Free Press’ editorial “an unwarranted attempt to stifle much needed discussion at the Capitol on insulin pricing and government’s push to nationally socialize medicine.”
“People are dying by rationing their expensive insulin. It is important to discuss all possible solutions and not disregard an idea experts agree can be part of a life-saving solution,” he added.
State Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), leader of the New House Republican Caucus, responded to Kresha’s accusations in a recent press release.
“In his video, Rep. Munson simply demonstrated that affordable insulin options exist. The mischaracterizations of Rep. Munson’s video by Rep. Kresha and a number of Democrats exposes big pharma’s and big government’s desire to subvert the free market. I have viewed the video several times. Not once did he say, suggest, or infer that people avoid seeing a doctor or disregard a doctor’s advice,” he said.
“Rep. Kresha should focus more on representing the folks of Little Falls and district 9B, rather than representing the interests of big pharma,” Drazkowski continued. “Big insulin already hired their Minnesota lobbyist, who only last year worked for Rep. Kresha and the House Republican Caucus. Rep. Kresha should get on his snorkel and swim fins and help Rep. Munson drain the swamp, rather than help big pharma fill it up.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].