The House of Representatives passed HR 6833, a bill to cap a month’s supply of certain insulin products at $35 or 25 percent of the plan’s negotiated price. Only 12 Republicans voted for the bill and Virginia’s delegation split along party lines. Several Virginia Democrats touted the bill’s passage in press releases, but in a Friday email update, Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) said the bill was a major expansion of federal control over private health insurance.
“Today, we are talking about the Affordable Insulin Now Act, a bill that would make changes in the lives, in Virginia, of the more than 630,000 Virginians who are living with diabetes,” Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) said in a speech, highlighted in a press release. “The Affordable Insulin Now Act would finally make sure that every affected child, teenager, family member, every American can afford the insulin that they need. People living with diabetes do not have the choice of whether to purchase insulin or not — they depend on it to stay alive.”
A release from Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) states, “The cost of insulin, which rose by 54 percent from 2014 to 2019, has created an affordability crisis for the 9.6 percent of Virginians living with diabetes. Americans currently face an average price of $98.70 for a unit of insulin — ten times higher than in other wealthy nations. One in four Americans who rely on insulin has been forced to ration doses due to high prices, a last resort with potentially fatal consequences.”
“The Affordable Insulin Now Act would allow manufacturers to raise the prices of insulin without scrutiny, leading to higher costs for patients through increased premiums or higher cost-sharing, as well as decrease the number of generic insulins on the market, and mandate private insurers to cover select insulin products at a government-imposed cap price. Furthermore, H.R.6833 fails to reform the convoluted rebate system so patients continue to pay higher prices on all other drugs at the pharmacy counter,” Wittman wrote.
Instead, Wittman advocated for Republican-led HR 19, which he said would increase drug price transparency, increase low-cost options, and allow high deductible health insurance plans to cover insulin before hitting the deductible.
“Any healthcare reform legislation must be centered around the patient – not the government. Health is too personal to be solved by Washington’s one-size-fits-all mentality. It’s time that Washington comes together to support a healthcare system that uses the market to put downward pressure on prices, increases transparency in the healthcare and prescription drug markets, and continues to allow Americans to control their healthcare,” Wittman wrote.
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