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After years of campaigning on lowering the cost of prescription drugs, Democrats in the U.S. House have passed a bill capping the price of insulin at $35 per month for Americans with insurance.
The Affordable Insulin Now Act passed 232-193 on Thursday, overcoming Republican objections in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
“If 10 Republicans stand between the American people being able to get access to affordable insulin, that’s a good question for 10 Republicans to answer,” said Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, a cosponsor of the House bill. “Republicans get diabetes, too. Republicans die from diabetes.”
The Biden Administration had tried to pass legislation around prescription drug prices through the Build Back Better plan. That plan would’ve gone even further by authorizing Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of drugs for consumers.
Yet it failed due to opposition from Republicans and moderate swing vote Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia).
While experts have lauded the bill as a way to bring relief for privately insured patients who desperately need insulin, the fact that it only applies to those with insurance means it leaves out those most vulnerable and most in need of the price cut.
Black Americans more likely to die from diabetes, less likely to have insurance
African American adults are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and twice as likely as White Americans to die from the disease, as of 2018. That’s according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
To make matters worse, Black Americans are also more likely to lack health insurance than White Americans, though Hispanic and Native American populations are the most uninsured, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Given these disparities, Black, Hispanic and Native Americans with diabetes who lack insurance won’t benefit from the legislation’s price controls on insulin, despite being the groups most in need of it.
If passed in the Senate and signed by President Biden, the bill would take effect in 2023.