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Monday, December 09, 2019

Nearly Every House Republican Votes Against Cap On Insulin Pricing

Nearly all House Republicans on Thursday night voted against a bill that would dramatically lower the cost of insulin, the life-saving diabetes drug that has skyrocketed in price in recent years.

The House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act by a vote of 232-193, with every Democrat and just 12 Republicans voting for the bill. If enacted, the bill would cap the price for a month supply of the drug at $35, or 25 percent of the negotiated insurance price.

According to the website GoodRx Health, the average price for insulin spiked by 54 percent between 2014 and 2019, an increase that's led to insulin rationing, a dangerous and sometimes deadly tactic in which diabetics use less insulin than needed in order to avoid depleting their supply of the expensive drug.

"Insulin prices are outrageous! Diabetics, like me, pay almost $100 for a unit that costs $12 in Canada. It causes some to ration or skip days to survive," Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) tweeted. "Today, I voted for a bill to cap insulin prices at $35 per month. No one should have to choose between food or medicine!"

Republicans condemned the bill as government interference in health care.

"Today it's the government fixing the price of insulin. What's next?" Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said during debate on the bill. "Gas? Food? History tells us that price-fixing doesn't work."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), while calling the legislation "another big government bill that claims to serve the American people by subverting basic economic theory with the proposed codification of government price controls," blamed the rising cost of insulin on increased demand due to Americans getting fatter.

"The number of diabetes cases in the U.S. has nearly doubled. The demand for insulin has increased and the requisite price increase has followed suit. In other words, the price of insulin increases as waistlines increase," Gaetz tweeted.

However, polling finds that voters support capping the cost of the drug.

A Data for Progress survey in November 2021 found that 87 percent support capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month.

Provisions that would have lowered prescription drug prices were included in President Joe Biden's Build Back Better framework, which stalled in the Senate.

It's unclear whether the standalone insulin bill can pass in the Senate.

Democrats would need to convince 10 Republicans to allow the bill to come up for a vote to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to stop a filibuster of it.

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Former President Donald Trump at an American military cemetery near Paris in 2018

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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