Rep. Dan Kildee’s daughter needs insulin to stay alive. But not everyone is in favor of making the pricey medication more affordable.
Need to Know
- A bill, introduced by Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee, would cut the cost of insulin to $35 a month for people who are insured.
- One in 10 Michiganders has diabetes, and many can end up paying thousands a year for their medication.
- Kildee’s bill passed the US House of Representatives but needs Republican support in the Senate.
FLUSHING, Mich.—A proposal to cap monthly insulin costs at $35 for insured Americans has passed the US House and is on the way to the Senate.
The Affordable Insulin Now Act passed the House 232-193 and was championed in large part by Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat from Flushing who introduced the bill in February.
“No one should have to choose between taking their medication as prescribed and putting food on the table or a roof over their head,” Kildee said. “But people must make that choice because of Big Pharma’s unfair pricing practices.”
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Insulin is a naturally occurring, vital hormone in the body that regulates metabolism. People with Type 1 diabetes and some people with Type 2 diabetes rely on insulin injections to control their blood sugar, but the price of the 100-year-old medication has soared recently, forcing some people to skip doses.
Before the House vote, Kildee, whose daughter has Type 1 diabetes, gave an impassioned speech before other representatives about the need for affordable insulin.
“This is something I know a little bit about,” Kildee said. “As the father of a Type 1 diabetic, I’ve seen first-hand how the high price of prescription drugs, like insulin, can harm patients and harm families.”
When his daughter went on her own health insurance plan, she spent a third of her take home pay on insulin some months, Kildee said. While Kildee and his wife were able to help, many aren’t so fortunate, he said.
One in 10 Michiganders has diabetes, according to estimates, and many rely on insulin.
Michiganders have been known to drive to Canada to save money for insulin and other prescription medications. The price of insulin is 10 times greater in the US than in other economically advanced countries worldwide, and many experts blame the pharmaceutical industry for engorging itself at the public’s expense.
One in four people reportedly skimp on their insulin treatment because of the cost, which seriously endangers their health. People can pay nearly $4,000 a year for insulin in Michigan, the governor’s office said.
“My life literally depends on my ability to afford insulin,” said Jill Verdier, a mid-Michigan resident with Type 1 diabetes, in a press release for Kildee.
The bill passed the House with the unanimous approval of Democrats. But despite Kildee’s entreaty, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, was the only Michigan Republican to vote for the package. Republican Reps. Bergman, McClain, Meijer, Huizenga, Walberg, and Moolenaar all voted against the bill.
Polls have consistently shown that the public supports congressional action to limit prescription drug prices, regardless of party affiliation, according to the Associated Press.
At the beginning of the year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also suggested separate action to lower the cost of insulin in Michigan. Attorney General Dana Nessel has investigated drug companies for their role in recent price hikes.
“Too many Michiganders are forced to ration insulin or forgo it, putting their lives at risk,” Whitmer said in February.
Kildee’s bill would have an estimated impact on one of every five people who takes insulin, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Primarily, the bill would help people with bare-bones private plans and elderly people on Medicare.
Next, the bill goes to the Senate, where it will need 10 Republicans to sign on alongside clear Democratic support.