Maine Democratic leaders on Tuesday touted four health care bills lawmakers will consider this session, including measures that would cap the cost of insulin, prohibit surprise emergency room billing and add more price transparency and regulations to the health care system.

The bills by House Speaker Sara Gideon, Senate President Troy Jackson and Sen. Ned Claxton, D-Auburn, rolled out as the “Patients First” initiative, would give “everyday Mainers” more leverage to “drive down the costs for all Mainers,” said a news release.

One of Gideon’s bills, L.D. 2096, would cap the cost of insulin at $100 per month for the state’s 140,000 diabetes patients. Annual costs for insulin have jumped from $2,864 in 2012 to $5,705 in 2016, according to the Washington-based Health Care Cost Institute.

“When I hear about Mainers rationing their medication or losing their life-savings despite being insured, I know our health care system requires major reform,” Gideon said in a statement.

Another bill by the House speaker, L.D. 2881, would prohibit surprise medical bills stemming from emergency room visits, and Claxton’s bill, L.D. 2889, would force providers to send patients a first bill within six months of treatment, and require more transparency in billing, among other reforms.

“Maine people should not have to be afraid to go to the doctor or be worried about being sent to collections if they do. They should not have to choose between paying for the health care or prescription drugs they need or putting food on the table or fuel in their tank to heat their homes,” said Ann Woloson, executive director of the nonprofit Consumers for Affordable Health Care.

Jackson’s bill, L.D. 2890, would create a Maine Commission on Affordable Health Care, which would study why health care costs are increasing and make recommendations to lower costs.

“All across the state, families sit around the kitchen table each night trying to figure out how to stretch their budget to make ends meet and afford health care. I know because I hear it from Mainers every day, and most of all, I know because I’ve been there,” Jackson said in a statement.

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