(WEHT)- Right now in America, the American Diabetes Association estimates that 8.4 million Americans rely on insulin to stay healthy and alive. But amid rising prices for the drug, including an 11-year span where the price nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, the ADA says a quarter of Americans with diabetes reported rationing insulin to save money.
Nathan Goble says he currently spends about $200 a month on insulin products, a figure he calls “draining” despite costing less than the national average. At the end of the day, Goble says “it’s all about affordability,” saying that even with insurance, insulin is “ridiculously expensive.”
After President Biden urged lawmakers to find a solution during his State of the Union address, congressional lawmakers in the House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which would curb the cost of insulin to $35.
However, the bill received criticism, largely from Republican lawmakers. Only 12 Republican Representatives voted for the measure, and none of them came from the Tri-State area. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R, In-08) spoke on the House floor saying that the “price controls” could be a slippery slope if Democrats don’t stop with insulin.
Rep. Bucshon also says the bill does not address the root causes of higher prices and could simply shift the costs around from out of pocket costs to higher insurance premiums.
The legislation comes years after former President Trump attempted a similar measure to lower insulin costs at federally funded health centers. That measure never took effect, in part because Rep. Bucshon says the insurance industry balked at the proposal and threatened to raise premiums on Medicare Part D.
Rep. Brett Guthrie (R, Ky-02) also opposed the bill. In a statement, Rep. Guthrie says “The partisan bill did not address the rising cost of insulin. It capped what people living with diabetes pay to $35 at the retail counter. People affected by diabetes will end up paying more through rising premiums and taxes. I have a bill that addresses the cost of insulin, while encouraging continued investments in diabetes that could ultimately lead to a cure for the disease.”
The Endocrine Society and the American Diabetes Association have both endorsed the bill, but Merritt Bates-Thomas from the Green River District Health Department says there are some issues to work out with the bill. If the $35 cap is per product, Bates-Thomas says it could still cost diabetics $140 per month if they need two vials and two pens.
While the bill would not cover uninsured Americans, Goble says he hopes it could be a start for Americans with diabetes and “we can start looking forward to helping the uninsured.” The bill now heads to the Senate.