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Democrats Move to Drive Down Insulin Costs for Millions in Inflation Reduction Act

By August 1, 2022No Comments

The Inflation Reduction Act harbors hope for the millions of Americans who depend on insulin and other life-saving prescription drugs. Insulin is vital to the management of diabetes but often comes with a hefty price tag. The U.S. is a target for Big Pharma price hikes because current policies have allowed them to raise prices year after year unchecked. This legislation – which is the largest health care bill since the ACA – will, for the first time, authorize Medicare to negotiate prices directly for some of the most expensive prescription medicines, including insulin; institute a cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries; and limit annual price increases to stop price gouging by drug corporations. Now, Democrats are also moving to limit the cost of insulin at $35 per month for everyone with insurance.  

Key Points:

  • Millions Of Americans Rely On Insulin. 37.3 million Americans—more than 1 in 10—have diabetes, with more than 7 million Americans dependent on insulin to manage their diabetes. In 2017, 3.1 million Medicare Part D enrollees used insulin.
  • Skyrocketing Insulin Costs Are Hurting Diabetics. As many as one in four of the 7 million Americans dependent on insulin are skipping or skimping on doses, which can lead to death. This is because of Big Pharma’s outrageous price hikes. The cost of the four most popular types of insulin have tripled over the past decade, with the average price per month rising to $450 in 2016. Eli Lilly, for example, has hiked the price of its brand-name insulin, Humalog, 30 times in 20 years, from $21 per vial in 1998 to nearly $300 in 2018.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 Will Lower Costs & Protect Patients. Beginning in 2023, Medicare, group, and individual health plans will be required to cover selected insulin products with out-of-pocket costs capped at $35 per month, regardless if a deductible has been met. The bill would also allow Medicare to negotiate insulin prices directly with drug makers. These provisions are expected to provide savings to millions of insulin users with health coverage.

In The News:

Politico: Insulin ‘Things’ Return In Reconciliation. “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Thursday that insulin provisions will be added back into the reconciliation package…” [Politico, 7/29/22]

Bloomberg: Schumer Seeks to Slash Insulin Prices. “Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said in an interview that she’s trying to resurrect a provision that would subject all insulin products automatically to government negotiations.” [Bloomberg, 7/29/22]

Washington Post: Inflation Reduction Act Is ‘A Truly Historic Breakthrough.’ “‘Now, finally, like every other country in the world, we’ll be able to negotiate with drug companies on expensive drugs. It is a truly historic breakthrough many, many years in the making,’ said David Mitchell, president and founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, one of the advocacy groups that has been pushing Congress to act.”  [Washington Post, 7/28/22

Washington Post: Senate Democrats Weigh Adding Insulin Cost-Saving Measure to Economic Package.  “While discussions are still in flux, [Senators Shaheen and Collins] are now looking at ways to include measures that would address the cost of insulin in the Democrats’ long-sought economic package.” [Washington Post, 7/28/22]