This is going to be a short and sweet editorial, because the issue under consideration is about as straightforward as it can be.
Insulin is expensive -- so expensive that thousands of diabetics across Minnesota face impossible decisions every month. No family or individual should have to choose between food and insulin. Or between rent and insulin. And no one should be forced to neglect their own medical needs in order to cover the co-pay on their spouse's insulin.
People on both sides of Minnesota's political aisle agree that something needs to be done. Although the Legislature is not in session, both the GOP and the DFL have developed proposals that would provide qualifying individuals with free insulin. The application process that both sides have laid out would likely be somewhat cumbersome at first, but the bottom line is that either proposal would work. Uninsured and underinsured people who are willing to jump through a few hoops would get a much-needed supply of free insulin. And when that supply runs out, people could re-apply and get more.
The two proposals aren't identical. One would set eligibility limits at households with incomes of 400 percent of the federal poverty line, while the other would set the income limit at 600 percent of the federal poverty level. One plan would offer a renewable 30-day supply of insulin, while the other would provide 120 days of free insulin. One plan would require people to apply online using MNsure's website, while the other would let applicants do the paperwork right at the pharmacy.
We're not going to say which plan we prefer, because we have no preference. While we're certain that DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka have good justifications for the details of their plans, they're so similar that there's no reason for any argument at this point.
Either plan would fix the problem. Either plan would eliminate tremendous financial hardships for people and families who desperately need to catch a break.
So we join Gov. Tim Walz in urging the two sides to convene some sort of unofficial, conference committee-like working group to find the middle ground. It shouldn't be hard. Halfway between 400 percent of poverty and 600 percent of poverty is 500 percent. Halfway between a 30-day supply and a 120-day supply is 75 days. And while using the MNsure site to fill out the eligibility forms sounds smart, there clearly should be an emergency provision allowing someone to fill out the forms at a pharmacy and get at least a short-term supply of insulin.
Lives and livelihoods are at stake here, and the only way such negotiations could become complicated would be if one or both parties allow other, unrelated political squabbles to muddy the waters. Such things happen all too often, but in this case, partisan bickering would be inexcusable. Our legislative leaders need to set their differences aside and reach a clean compromise.
When that happens, Gov. Walz has promised to convene a special session of the Legislature, and only one item should be on the the agenda. That session should take less than one day, with no grandstanding or introducing of last-minute extraneous amendments.
Seldom do our elected officials have easy opportunities to work together and compromise without sacrificing their precious political capital, but this is one of those times.