Kennedy: We can lower cost of insulin without adding to federal budget
Published 2:40 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today questioned witnesses in the Senate Appropriations Committee on the bipartisan Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2023, which he and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) introduced this March. Their bill would cap the price of insulin for all patients, including those who are uninsured, at $35 for a 30-day supply.
Key moments from the committee exchange include:
“We need to stop nibbling around the edges. We need to be smart enough to figure this out. And the cost? I think it can be done for $250 million a year, and I’m not talking about taking out a reverse mortgage on Alaska and borrowing more money. I’m talking about finding it in our budget,” said Kennedy.
“The federal budget is 6,000 billion dollars every year—and we can’t find $250 million to cap the price of insulin? Let’s do it right,” Kennedy concluded.
Background on the Affordable Insulin Now Act:
More than 14 percent of Louisiana’s adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes, and more than 30 percent of adult Louisianians are pre-diabetic.
Louisiana alone spends an estimated $5.7 billion a year on direct medical expenses for those who are diagnosed with diabetes. By ensuring that insulin is affordable, the long-term cost of care for patients will decrease over time as more Americans are able to prevent complications including heart disease, kidney disease, strokes and other diagnoses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical costs and lost work and wages for people with diagnosed diabetes total $327 billion yearly, and the American Diabetes Association has asserted that diabetics account for $1 of every $4 spent on health care in the U.S.
A national study projected that improving access to insulin for uninsured patients could help avoid complications of diabetes and deaths related to the disease. As a result, the health care system could save substantial amounts of money on providing care to uninsured diabetes patients.
The Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2023 would:
- Require private group or individual plans to cover one of each insulin dosage form (i.e., vial, pen) and insulin type (i.e., rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting) for no more than $35 per month.
- Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a program to reimburse qualifying entities for covering any costs that exceed $35 for providing a 30-day supply of insulin to uninsured patients.
- Be fully paid for by an offset and not add to the federal deficit.
Kennedy’s efforts to save taxpayer money by defraying insulin costs include:
- In August 2022, Kennedy introduced an amendment to President Biden’s inflation reduction Act to cap insulin costs.
- In June 2022, Kennedy penned an op-ed outlining the benefits of making insulin affordable for diabetic Louisianians.
- In September 2021, Kennedy introduced the Seniors Saving on Insulin Act and the Vital Medication Affordability Act in an effort to make insulin and epinephrine more affordable.
- In August 2021, Kennedy introduced the Ending Pricey Insulin Act to address skyrocketing insulin prices.