Congress considers capping insulin costs, allowing Medicare to negotiate price

March 25, 2022

To curb the escalating costs of health care, the Senate is working on legislation that would limit the cost of insulin for diabetics.

Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 6 million use insulin, according to the Associated Press.

Joshua Cohen, who covers pharmaceutical prices for Forbes, writes that new types of insulin can cost between $175 and $300 a vial, and most patients use two to three vials a month. It’s increasingly common for many who cannot afford the costly drug to skip doses. This can be deadly.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., are cosponsors of the bill that would limit insulin copays to $35 a month for those covered by private insurance or Medicare. But, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says this legislation is only a partial solution. She is working on legislation that would take the initiative a step further and help uninsured patients afford insulin as well.

“I think that there ought to be enough support to get this passed in a bipartisan way,” Warnock said. “Something as puny as politics shouldn’t get in the way of providing access to a life-saving drug.”

These proposals would lower costs for some consumers but would not address the underlying issue, which is that the costs for insulin and many prescription drugs continues to rise.

Oregon Senator and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden wants Congress to pass a pricing overhaul that would cut costs for Medicare recipients and working-age Americans.

President Biden has drug pricing provisions in his domestic agenda that would have a similar $35 cap on insulin costs and would rein cost increases on all medications.  Legislation that cuts the cost of insulin is supported by President Biden and was supported by President Donald Trump, as well.

Democrats will need Republican support to get anything through the Senate and into the House. Do you use insulin? Are the rising costs affecting you? Share your story here.