Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Warnock insulin bill goes bipartisan

Senator Raphael Warnock speaks at a rally

Warnock speaks at a runoff election night event in Atlanta on Dec. 6. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Raphael Warnock on Thursday introduced a bill to cap insulin costs at $35 per month, but with an important addition: GOP Sen. John Kennedy is now cosponsoring.

Why it matters: The GOP sponsor could give a boost to Warnock's effort, which he pushed last year as well.

  • Democrats were able to cap monthly costs at $35 per person on Medicare last year. This bill would extend the protection to people on private insurance and the uninsured.

Between the lines: Kennedy's support is not a complete surprise, given that he was one of seven GOP senators to vote for the effort last year during the IRA debate.

  • But insulin legislation faces a tough path. There is now a GOP House, which has not been welcoming. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers called President Biden's call for a $35 cap in the State of the Union "socialist."
  • Insulin makers have recently voluntarily lowered their prices, but backers say there is more to do to enshrine lower prices in law.

What's next: Warnock indicated to reporters Thursday that Senate leaders haven't decided whether the measure would get a standalone floor vote or be in a larger package, saying his constituents don't care how it's done as long as it passes.

  • He said he's having "ongoing" conversations with other GOP senators.

What they're saying: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this month that "it is my hope" bipartisan insulin legislation can pass, without providing details on the path forward.

  • Sens. Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen are also working to reintroduce a version of their insulin bill. Collins told Axios she is still getting technical assistance from the FDA.
  • "We're continuing to polish the bill, and I hope we'll be introducing it in the next couple of weeks. It may be after the recess," she said.
  • Asked about that measure, which is broader and includes changes to the rebate system for insulin, Warnock said the bills are "not rivals."
  • "From my perspective at least, we are all on the same team," he said.
Go deeper