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San Antonio city council members propose insulin cost-sharing program for residents

City leaders want to expand access to insulin, a critical medication in treating diabetes which affects more than 15% of Bexar County residents.

SAN ANTONIO — City leaders want to expand access to affordable, often times critical, diabetes treatment.

Two San Antonio city councilmembers proposed creating a cost-share program to help people in need to be able to afford insulin.

In Bexar County, more than 15% of people report having diabetes. According to Metro Health, Hispanic and Black communities are at higher risk.

“The city has a role in protecting people, and we acknowledged racism is a public health crisis, but we don’t yet think of the ways health, like diabetes, impacts people of color disproportionately,” Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez said. After seeing the state put a cap on insulin prices for those on state-regulated insurance plans, they want to go a step further.

A council consideration request, co-sponsored by councilwoman Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia, will ask the city to see if a cost-share program to help San Antonians cover the cost of insulin is possible.

McKee-Rodriguez says it would be the first program of its kind in the country.

“There’s a need, and I think the city has an opportunity to fill that need,” he said.

The American Diabetes Association says Texas spends 26 billion dollars in treating diabetes each year, and that insulin prices have tripled from 2002 to 2013.

Councilman McKee-Rodriguez says the program, and who could apply for it, is still in the works. But, he envisions it working like the city’s emergency housing assistance program.

He says it could help those who sometimes have to choose between paying for medication and other needs.

“We know people with diabetes often are in places with limited access to quality affordable food. They’ve been impacted disparately by the pandemic, and I think this is a path forward to close some of those gaps,” he said.

McKee-Rodriguez says the CCR will have to go through committee first before being discussed by the full council, which could take several months.

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