Jerri-Lynn here. That so many people have to pay huge sums for insulin is just one of many problems with the U.S. medical care system. That the Democrats may cave on fixing this reveals so much about the party’s failure to govern effectively. What’s next: another fundraising email where Schumer et al promise to fight for affordable insulin?
By Kenny Stancil, staff writer. Originally published at Common Dreams
Hundreds of people affected by the United States’ sky-high insulin prices and more than two dozen progressive advocacy groups on Monday toldSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that it would be an “enormous mistake” to exclude insulin-related provisions from an emerging reconciliation bill.
“Excluding insulin from drug pricing reform would be a slap in the face for the millions of Americans who rely on this lifesaving medicine to manage their diabetes.”
The initially far-reaching but now heavily curtailed economic package that congressional Democrats hope to pass through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process before November’s pivotal midterms is expected to focus on lowering drug prices—the one major reform that right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) has agreed to in his negotiations with Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Earlier this month, Senate Democrats—including Manchin, whose vote is indispensable in the evenly split upper chamber—reached a deal on a plan that would allow Medicare Part D to negotiate the prices of up to 20 prescription medications directly with pharmaceutical corporations, a proposal that is overwhelmingly popularwith voters across party lines.
“As Congress verges on finally putting in place a system for Medicare drug price negotiation and advancing other urgently needed reforms, we ask that you ensure people who need insulin to live are not left behind,” the coalition wrote to Schumer in a letter signed by Public Citizen, T1International, the Center for Popular Democracy, and other groups and individuals.
Legislation passed by the House and considered by the Senate last year included language that would have made all insulin products subject to Medicare price negotiation and that would have capped Medicare beneficiaries’ insulin copays at $35 per month.
Both provisions have been left out of the latest draft of the bill released by the Senate Finance Committee, however, much to the dismay of consumer advocates and people with diabetes.
1/4 of people with diabetes have to ration insulin to survive in the U.S.
So why the hell would Congress leave Insulin out of drug pricing legislation?
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) July 18, 2022
“As drug pricing legislation advances through the budget reconciliation process, policymakers must, at least, include price negotiation and Medicare out-of-pocket cost provisions that have previously been uncontroversial in the caucus,” says the letter. “It would be an enormous mistake to exclude insulin price negotiation and out-of-pocket protections that previously received overwhelming support and miss this key opportunity.”
More than 37 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes. The disease, which can wreak havoc on organs, eyesight, and limbs if left unmanaged, is the country’s seventh leading cause of death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because just three pharmaceutical corporations control the nation’s lucrative insulin market, the century-old drug can cost a person without adequate health insurance more than $300 per vial. This unabated price gouging and the massive coverage gaps inherent to a for-profit healthcare system have left millions of people across the U.S. who rely on insulin to live with diabetes unable to afford it. Corporate profiteering is forcing many people to ration the drug or forgo it, with deadly consequences.