Insulin price cap approved by U.S. House as Georgia’s Warnock pushes for Senate passage
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), speaks during a U.S. Senate Rules Committee Georgia Field Hearing on the right to vote at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights on July 19, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. Senate Democrats are trying to keep a focus on voting rights in an ongoing effort to pass the “For the People Act”. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Thursday passed a bill on a bipartisan 232-193 vote that would limit the price of insulin, as congressional Democrats met throughout the day with health care advocates to make their case for the proposal.
Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Patty Murray of Washington state held a virtual round table with residents from their states to push for capping the cost of insulin at $35. The House bill, from Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota, includes the same limit.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
“Costs for prescription drugs like insulin have skyrocketed,” Warnock said. “It’s not a mere inconvenience if you can’t have access to it. This is a life-saving drug.”
He argued that the formula for insulin was created 100 years ago, and there is no reason for the rising cost of the medicine because “we’re not talking about the cost of research and development.”
“We’re paying the cost of greed,” Warnock said.
The senators were joined by Leslie Dach, chair of the group Protect Our Care; Kevin Wren, a Type 1 diabetes patient from Washington state; and Shannon Bjorneby, from Darien, Georgia, whose son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
We’re paying the cost of greed.
– Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia
Murray said that she’s hoping for a bipartisan effort in the Senate to pass a bill, introduced by Warnock, to cap insulin costs. This provision was originally in the president’s “Build Back Better” social spending and climate package sent to Congress that stalled in the Senate.
Murray added that when people have to ration their insulin because it costs so much, “that is a direct threat to their health.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation, which produces research on health care policy, detailed that Medicare spending on insulin increased 840% between 2007 and 2017, or from $1.4 billion to $13.3 billion.
Wren talked about several times when he had to ration his insulin and said that the cost of his medicine was sometimes more than his rent.
House insulin bill
Earlier Thursday, Craig and fellow Democratic Reps. Lucy McBath of Georgia and Dan Kildee of Michigan and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina held a press conference, advocating for the measure passed by the House, the “Affordable Insulin Now Act.”
The bill would ensure that no patient pays more than $35 per month for insulin, regardless of their insurance provider. Twelve Republicans, none from Colorado, voted with Democrats for it.
The chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone, said on the House floor that he wants Congress to continue working to lower the overall cost of prescription drugs, “but we cannot afford to wait any longer to address the price of insulin.”
“Today, 1 in 4 Americans who need insulin report either having cut back or skipped doses because the cost is simply too high,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “No one should have to ration their insulin to help reduce costs, risking their health and in some tragic cases, costing them their lives.”
The CDC estimates that 34.2 million people, or 10.5% of the U.S. population, has diabetes.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.