The House on Thursday passed a bill to cap the cost of insulin for most Americans at $35 per month but the legislation still faces numerous hurdles, The New York Times reports.
Every Democrat and 12 Republicans voted in favor of the bill to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin.
The slimmed-down plan is a far cry from a more ambitious plan in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which would have limited price increases on all drugs and extended insulin coverage to the uninsured.
“If the effort to address drug prices ends with this plan to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin, it will amount to crumbs compared to Democrats’ initial ambitions to allow the government to negotiate drug prices,” Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Times.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it an important “step in the direction of the secretary being able to negotiate for lower drug prices beyond insulin.”
Senate Health Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said the Democrats “focused on insulin because it affects so many Americans in so many specific ways.”
All but 12 Republicans in the chamber opposed the bill.
Some Republicans argued that the bill would simply lead to insurers raising premiums.
The insurance industry lobbied against the bill.
“The premium impact is going to be substantial, and this isn’t the way to address the high cost of insulin,” one lobbyist told Politico. “But all these Democrats want this win.”
“Insulin prices are too high because Big Pharma alone sets and controls the price,” America’s Health Insurance Plans spokesperson David Allen said in a statement. “This legislation continues to empower Big Pharma to raise insulin prices with impunity leaving patients, businesses, and hardworking taxpayers paying even more for health care.”
Senate battle looms:
The bill is unlikely to succeed in the Senate, where Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to support the legislation to avoid a filibuster.
Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Susan Collins are working on a bipartisan bill that would cap out-of-pocket costs while also cutting the cost of the drug.
Though Warnock said he has heard “bipartisan interest. In capping the cost of insulin,” no other Republicans have signed on to the plan.