Politics

House Passes Bill To Limit Insulin To $35 But Needs Vote Of 10 Republican Senators


The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that could finally bring some relief to millions of Americans who depend on insulin daily, but the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Black adults are almost twice as likely as white to develop Type 2 diabetes and this racial disparity has been growing over the last 30 years, according to the National Institutes of Health. The greatest disparity is between Black and white women.

On Thursday, March 31, the House passed H.R. 6833, commonly known as the Affordable Insulin Now Act, with unanimous support from Democrats plus 12 Republicans, according to the New York Times.

The bill caps the monthly cost of insulin at $35 or 25 percent of a plan’s negotiated price. However, for the bill to become law, it needs the support of at least 10 Republican senators – a much more difficult feat.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she hopes to help make the bill law as she works on a compromise with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, KHN reported.

Though in the early stages, the bill will not be the same as the one passed by the House. Instead, it aims to roll insulin prices back to what they were in 2006.

“It tackles the broader issue of the high list price for insulin, and the conflicts of interests that occur in the chain from manufacturer to the consumer buying it at the pharmacy counter,” Collins said.

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There are pros and cons on each side as the bi-partisan senate effort won’t help those who are uninsured, nor will it lower the actual price of the life-saving drug overall.

“This bill does not lower the price of insulin by one penny,” Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett said. “It just shifts the burden of paying for the insulin off of the shoulders of insured insulin users, and shifts it on to the rest of all of us who are paying insurance premiums.”

The bill is also not the wide-sweeping effort the Democrats touted in addressing rising drug costs overall. Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it is “a step in the direction of the secretary being able to negotiate for lower drug prices beyond insulin.”

Some Democratic lawmakers said Republicans would have to answer to their constituents as to why they would block making a life-saving drug more affordable if the bill is now passed before the House voted.

“If 10 Republicans stand between Americans being able to get access to insulin or not, that’s a good question for 10 Republican [senators] to have to answer when they go back home,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said. “So we’re gonna pass this bill, and this will put the pressure on the Senate to act.”

He and his fellow Democratic co-sponsors also said they were open to Shaheen and Collins’ additions.

Among those over age 18 diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. in 2018, 13 percent were Black and 8 percent were white, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Any train that’s leaving the station that gets folks affordable insulin — I’m open to any vehicle,” Kildee said. “We think this is a solution that would work. How it gets to the president’s desk, I’m agnostic on that question. Any way we can get it there.”

PHOTO: From left, Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Rep. Lucy McBath, Ga., talk about their support for legislation aimed at capping the price of insulin, at the Capitol in Washington, March 31, 2022. The bill aims to keep consumers’ out-of-pocket costs at no more than $35 per month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)





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