Last week we also reported on a bi-partisan bill in the Senate that would lower the cost of insulin and cap the out-of-pocket cost to diabetes patients at $35 a month. Because it was developed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), it was hoped it could get a vote in the Senate this month.
We said that because of Senate rules, the Shaheen-Collins bill will require support from at least 10 Republican senators in order to clear a filibuster and pass. However, it is far from clear that 10 Republicans can be found to support the bill. Some are citing fears of interfering with the free market as the reason for their opposition to the bill.
Now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he plans to hold a vote soon on the bill, but key Republican senators say they are not ready for a vote right now.
“I agree we’ve got to deal with insulin, but I don’t think they’ve got the right mechanism to do it just yet,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. Crapo said he agrees with Republicans who want to hold a hearing on the legislation before it is brought to a vote on the floor.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he’s waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to produce an updated analysis of the bill to understand its impact. He also wants to get a sense of how many drug-makers would voluntarily take up the bill’s offer to hold prices to a 2021 level in exchange for a prohibition on rebates. Drug-makers pay rebates to insurers or other entities in the supply chain partly to get better placement on insurance networks.
Democrats fear Republicans are stalling on passing the bill because they do not want to let the Democrats claim victory before the fall elections, while Republicans think Democrats are simply “rushing” the legislation to the floor to blame Republicans for its failure.