(CNSNews.com) – Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced legislation this week to cap insulin prices at $25 per patient, per month, an initiative that has not been historically popular with members of his party.
“Insulin was discovered more than a century ago, yet too many Americans who rely on it have difficulty paying for it,” said Hawley in a Jan. 30 press release.
“The price of insulin is straining household budgets – at a time when inflation is already squeezing families – which can lead to rationing, and even the need for more expensive treatments down the line,” he added. “Patients and their families deserve better.”
According to the press release, over 500,000 Missouri residents live with diabetes, meaning the rising price of insulin significantly affects their day-to-day living costs.
In total, 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, making up 11.3% of the population. Among these, 28.7 million have been diagnosed, meaning the remaining 8.6 million have diabetes and do not know it.
Between 2002 and 2013, the average cost of insulin tripled, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
The “excess medical costs associated with diabetes” were $9,601 per person in 2017, according to the CDC.
Based on surveys conducted by the ADA 1 in 4 insulin users report skipping does or cutting back on usage, which puts their lives at risk, in order to save money.
To combat this, 20 states and Washington, D.C. have placed caps on the copayments on “insulin, devices, or diabetes supplies.”
Hawley’s bill, the Cap Insulin Prices Act, would do the following
- “Set a $25 out-of-pocket cap for a monthly supply of insulin through private health plans.”
- “Reduce to $25 the out-of-pocket cap for a monthly supply of insulin through Medicare.”
- “Prohibit health plans from using prior authorization and step-therapy to steer patients to insulin products that are not the best for them.”
The morning he introduced his bill, Hawley tweeted the following indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, which he blames for the rising insulin prices:
“The cost of insulin is out of control – and Big Pharma is to blame. Last year I voted to cap insulin prices. Today I’m introducing legislation to do it. $25 cap. Protect people, not Big Pharma.”
The cost of insulin is out of control – and Big Pharma is to blame. Last year I voted to cap insulin prices. Today I’m introducing legislation to do it. $25 cap. Protect people, not Big Pharma
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 30, 2023
This is not the first time Hawley has pushed for price caps on insulin, a position that is not widely shared with his Republican colleagues in the Senate. In early August 2022, Hawley joined the following six GOP senators who joined all 50 Democrat senators in voting for a $35 price cap on insulin for people not covered by Medicare to be included in the $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act:
Bill Cassidy (La.);
Susan Collins (Maine);
Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.);
John Kennedy (La.);
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska);
Dan Sullivan (Alaska).
The price cap provision came up three votes short of the required 60-vote threshold to be included in the final bill. All seven GOP senators that voted in favor of the provision voted against the bill as a whole.
The bill eventually passed the Senate by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Since the Act was a reconciliation bill, it only needed a simple majority to pass.
CNS News reached out to Senator Hawley’s office to ask, “given the fact that capping insulin prices has been historically unpopular with Senate Republicans, how does Senator Hawley plan on garnering support for his bill within his caucus?”
Hawley’s did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
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