Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for insured patients.
Experts say the legislation would provide significant relief for privately insured patients with skimpier plans and for Medicare enrollees facing rising out-of-pocket costs for their insulin. Some could save hundreds of dollars annually, and all insured patients would get the benefit of predictable monthly costs for insulin. The bill would not help the uninsured.
The bill now moves to the Senate but its fate there is very uncertain. For the legislation to pass, 10 Republican senators would have to vote in favor. Democrats acknowledge they do not have an answer for how that is going to happen.
The idea of a $35 monthly cost cap for insulin has a bipartisan pedigree. The Trump administration had created a voluntary option for Medicare enrollees to get insulin for $35, and the Biden administration continued it.
The good news is that Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are working on a bipartisan insulin bill. In addition, Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has introduced legislation similar to the House bill, with the support of Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
However, some Republicans complain that the insulin bill is only a small piece of a larger package around government price controls for prescription drugs and that the bill would raise premiums and fails to target pharmaceutical middlemen seen as contributing to high list prices for insulin.
About 37 million Americans have diabetes, and an estimated 6 million to 7 million use insulin to keep their blood sugars under control. It is an old drug, refined and improved over the years, which has seen relentless price increases.
TSCL supports any legislation that lowers Insulin prices, and we urge you to contact your Senators, especially if they are Republicans, and urge them to support legislation to lower insulin prices.