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House passes bill to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs

The measure would limit insulin costs to no more than $35 a month.
Image: insulin Kit
Alexis Stanley shows her insulin kit in St. Paul, Minn., on Jan. 17, 2020.Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images file

The House passed legislation Thursday that would cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for the millions of diabetic Americans who rely on the drug.

Lawmakers approved the measure in a 232-193 vote, with just a dozen Republicans joining Democrats in support. It now heads to the Senate.

The Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would take effect in 2023, would limit cost-sharing under private health insurance for a month’s supply of certain insulin products at $35, or 25 percent of a plan’s negotiated price, whichever is less.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said the rising cost of insulin and other drugs is proving to be a financial burden on patients.

"As a father of a Type 1 diabetic, I have seen firsthand how the high price of prescription drugs like insulin can harm patients and harm families,” Kildee, one of the bill's sponsors, said on the House floor before the vote. “When my daughter turned 26 and got her own health insurance, there were months where she spent a third of her take home pay — because she’s diabetic — on staying alive."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.

President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to cut prescription drug prices, including insulin, in his State of the Union address March 1.

"Imagine what it’s like to look at your child who needs insulin and have no idea how you’re going to pay for it," Biden said. "Let’s cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month so everyone can afford it. Drug companies will still do very well."

But the overwhelming majority of House Republicans opposed the bill, underscoring the steep climb it faces when it arrives in the Senate, where it will need support from at least 10 GOP senators to pass if all Democratic-voting senators back it.

Republicans argue that the measure wouldn't adequately address rising prescription drug prices and that it would raise premiums and worsen inflation.

"This bill is an exemplar of the fact that they want the government to control our lives in every way they possibly can," Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said of Democrats in remarks on the House floor Thursday. She called the legislation "a massive power grab that will lead our country one step closer to socialized medicine."

The measure also faces industry opposition.

AHIP, a national trade association whose members provide health care coverage and services, blasted the bill in a statement Thursday.

"While health insurance providers work to reduce insulin costs, this policy unfortunately does nothing to lower the price of insulin but simply shifts costs to others through higher insurance premiums and copays," the organization said.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., introduced a similar bill in February. No Republicans have co-sponsored Warnock's bill.