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Senate support for an insulin price cap gaining momentum

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:37 AM MST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The CDC says about 37 million Americans, or about 11% of the country, live with diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association says the cost of life-saving insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013. President Biden is once again calling on Congress to cap out of pocket insulin costs at $35 a month.

Lacy Mason, an Atlanta resident living with type 1 diabetes, spoke with Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau about how insulin cost affected her.

Mason said, “I don’t want people to go through what I went through for over five years.”

When Mason was in college, she said she didn’t have health insurance to cover the insulin she needed to treat her diabetes. Unable to afford the hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs each month, Mason said she found herself turning to what she describes as a secret black market.

Mason said, “I met a couple of strangers in some parking lots and they gave me some insulin.”

She said she also rationed insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, one-in-four people with diabetes turn to this dangerous and potentially deadly practice due to the cost of insulin.

Mason said, “I don’t think people realize what rationing insulin does to your body. My kidneys hurt. Almost every day I rationed insulin like I could physically feel my kidneys hurt because my blood sugar was so high.”

Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is sponsoring a bill to cap insulin costs at $35 a month for people with Medicare and private insurance coverage.

Sen. Warnock said, “for the sake of folks that deal with this every day, and for the sake of getting costs under control, we need to do this now.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhARMA], a DC lobbying group which represents the three top insulin makers, says middlemen along the supply chain are to blame for high insulin prices.

Following President Biden’s State of the Union address where he called for an insulin price cap, PhARMA’s president Stephen J. Ubl said in a statement, “Allowing the government to set the price of medicines isn’t the answer.”

Right now, Sen. Warnock’s bill only has Democratic support in the Senate. However, Senator Susan Collins’s (R-Maine) office confirms to Gray Television that Sen. Collins will introduce a bipartisan bill which goes further than the bill sponsored by Sen. Warnock by also including a price cap for people without insurance coverage.

In a Thursday evening statement, Warnock said, “Lowering insulin costs isn’t about ideology—it’s about making sure people who need the life-saving medication can get it. In the past both Democrats and Republicans have recognized the importance of lowering what people pay for insulin, and I’m glad there seems to be bipartisan support right now in the Senate to get something on this done this Congress. I’ve been talking to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including many of my Republican friends like Senator Collins, about how we can save Georgians and Americans money on their insulin, and I gladly welcome a bipartisan pathway to make progress on this issue for the millions of Georgians and Americans who are paying far too much for the medication they need to live.”

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