Mar 3, 2022 - News

Warnock and McBath support Biden's plan to cap insulin costs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Biden highlighted a proposal backed by two Georgians in Congress to limit the out-of-pocket insurance costs for insulin to $35 per month.

Why it matters: According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 1 million Georgians have been diagnosed with diabetes and more than 200,000 others just aren’t aware they have it. And diabetics across the country often resort to rationing insulin to cut their medical costs.

What’s happening: Sen. Raphael Warnock has sponsored the bill in the Senate. Rep. Lucy McBath is a cosponsor of the companion bill in the House.

  • The regulation, which was originally part of Biden’s stalled Build Back Better plan, would apply to commercial insurance, group plans and Medicare.

By the numbers: The Health Care Cost Institute found that prescription insulin costs doubled between 2012 and 2016, even though insulin use rose modestly. The American Diabetes Association estimates people with diabetes account for $1 of every $4 spent on health care in the U.S.

  • Twenty states and the District of Columbia already have insulin cost caps in place.

Of note: This idea is not new. The Trump administration set a $35 cap for out-of-pocket insulin costs for some Medicare programs in 2020.

What theyre saying: At an event this week in Atlanta, Warnock said proposals like this have had bipartisan support in the past, though they’ve failed. “I’ve had some conversations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “I just hope that the politics don’t get in the way of something so very important for ordinary people.”

  • McBath told reporters Wednesday this is one step toward the larger goal of Medicare drug price negotiations with companies.

What were watching: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called the bill a near-term priority, as Axios’ Sophia Cai reports.

  • McBath said she sees “momentum that is leading us to make this happen now.”

Yes, but: Human Rights Watch has pointed out the bills would not help uninsured people, who face the highest drug costs of all.

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