U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) today announced the introduction of the Affordable Insulin for All Act (H.R. 5749) — legislation that would slash the price of life-sustaining insulin for every American living with diabetes.
The bill would create the American Insulin Program, expanding the deep discount drug manufacturers currently give to Medicaid patients, to every American who needs it. The legislation would also crack down on abuses throughout the supply chain so that the discounts are passed directly to patients at the check-out line and to lower health care premiums for all. Finally, the bill would commission the Government Accountability Office to examine the affordability and feasibility of direct insulin manufacturing by the federal government.
“Pinellas residents and Americans across the country are being gouged by the high cost of insulin. The current system puts excessive corporate profits over the care and well-being of patients and their families,” Crist says in a statement. “No one should be forced to choose between their life-sustaining medication or keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table. But in too many cases that’s happening today.”
T1International has the following statement: “As we’ve seen the insulin price crisis spiral out of control in the United States, it’s become increasingly clear that decisive legislative change is essential to bring costs down. Rep. Crist’s bill includes several components that would help to end this crisis. The American Insulin Program in particular will benefit all people with diabetes living in the United States, including the most vulnerable in our community, the uninsured. This bill is a promising step in the right direction.”
The legislation was in part inspired by Crist’s State of the Union guest and diabetes advocate, Taylor McKenny. Taylor and her father Mike, who runs a minority-owned small business based out of St. Petersburg, shared with Congressman Crist the hardships their family has endured since Taylor, now 19, was diagnosed with diabetes nine years ago. Since Taylor’s diagnosis, the McKennys recall times where they had to do “creative things” like pull money of the family’s 401k to cover healthcare costs, going so far as paying $150 for a 3-day supply for Taylor’s life-sustaining insulin.
Crist continues: “Affordable insulin shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It’s about doing the right thing, for the people. I’m proud to introduce this legislation as an ally in the fight for people living with diabetes across the country. Insulin is cheap to make – there’s nothing cutting edge about a drug that has been around for decades, virtually unchanged. And under my proposal, it will again be cheap to buy. It’s time we make insulin affordable for all.”
After speaking to the McKenny family, Congressman Crist questioned Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons and Commissioner Rohit Chopra on clear and apparent price fixing by insulin companies, squeezing millions of Americans and causing some to ration or go without their life-saving medication.
Background on H.R. 5749, the Affordable Insulin for All Act:
With more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes and only three pharmaceutical companies that have monopolies over insulin manufacturing, people are struggling to pay for the skyrocketing price of their life-sustaining insulin. From 2012 to 2016 the cost of insulin nearly doubled, in some cases to over $300 for a vial, despite peer-reviewed research finding that insulin could be sold for anywhere from $6.50 to $11 for a month’s supply and still deliver profits to manufacturers.
The Affordable Insulin for All Act would allow every person with a diabetes diagnosis in the United States to be able to purchase insulin at Medicaid’s discounted rate through the new American Insulin Program. The program would simply expand eligibility to receive insulin at Medicaid’s discounted rate to all Americans living with diabetes, while preventing manufactures, health insurers, and pharmacies from shifting costs or padding their profits. Among the legislation’s provisions:
- Eliminate Pharmacy Benefit Manager rebates and clawbacks for insulin;
- Calculate insulin cost savings so they translate to lower premiums for patients instead of increased insurance company profits;
- Cap co-pays and coinsurance at $10 per month;
- Commission a Government Accountability Office study to examine the feasibility and affordability of direct manufacturing of insulin;
- Allow Department of Health and Human Services to increase the Medicaid price by up to 5% no more than 3 times if the price is too low to maintain adequate supply.
The Endocrine Society has long championed affordable insulin, publishing a position statement in late 2018 and even visiting Capitol Hill to advocate for reducing the price of this life-saving medication.