When I came to Congress in 2019, one of my first priorities was to lower the cost of prescription drugs, especially on insulin, a medication millions of Americans take every day. My office produced a report on the high prices seniors in my district were paying for the drug, finding approximately 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the Kansas Third had been diagnosed with diabetes and were paying significantly more for insulin than those living overseas. This confirmed what many Kansas families know all too well: insulin prices in our country are soaring.
Year after year, insulin costs continue to rise and drug companies continue to rake in massive profits, while hardworking Americans are forced to choose between life-saving medications and feeding their families or putting gas in their cars. It’s an impossible choice — but for too many Americans, it’s the reality, and that was true for my new friend Julie.
While Julie has had Type 2 diabetes for many years, she started taking insulin three years ago, right after retiring. The cost for this new prescription upended her daily life and created a huge strain on her finances. Julie was now paying $700 for insulin alone some months, not including two additional medications. Because of that high price tag, she had to cut back on other areas of her budget to afford the necessary medicine.
Relief came on January 1st of this year, when a new law took effect, capping Julie’s out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 a month. The Inflation Reduction Act drastically lowers insulin costs for Medicare enrollees like Julie and the millions of other seniors who rely on insulin. Not only that—this new law creates the first-ever out-of-pocket cap on seniors’ overall drug prices and finally gives Medicare the power to negotiate down prescription drug costs, putting patients above profits.
I voted for this crucial piece of legislation with folks like Julie in mind. When she heard the news, she cried happy tears thinking about how the high insulin costs, which had a seemingly unbreakable grip on her wallet, were a thing of the past. I’m sure she wasn’t alone.
Simply put, this new insulin cap will save lives. It will also put money back into the pockets of our country’s seniors and allow them more freedom to spend that money on other essentials.
Now, I’m focused on extending these savings to patients of all ages and strengthening programs like Medicare and Social Security, which working Americans have paid into their whole lives and depend on to support their livelihoods. Prices for groceries and gas are already high right now, so while I work to lower costs across the board, I’m glad to provide some relief on health care and insulin costs for our seniors.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner" reflect the views of the writer and are not necessary those of TSCL.