On Thurs., U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) joined Protect Our Care and patients from Washington state and Georgia for a virtual roundtable to discuss their fight to lower the cost of lifesaving prescription drugs for patients—including by bringing down insulin costs for the 1 in 10 patients across the country with diabetes.
During the event, Senators Murray and Warnock underscored the urgent need to bring down prescription drug costs for patients, highlighting Democrats’ bold ideas to do exactly that, and made clear that—especially given bipartisan interest in the issue—they are determined to find a path to lower the cost of insulin so that everyone who needs the drug can afford it.
“Year after year, the price of insulin has been going up. Just over the last decade, insulin prices have tripled. But it’s not like the insulin is three times better—it’s the same product—drug companies just keep jacking the price up to reap bigger profits. The harsh reality is, the cost of insulin isn’t just out of control—it is devastating families. It is bankrupting them. It is hurting patients. And it has to stop,” said Senator Murray. “That’s why Senator Warnock and I have been pushing for steps to bring down health care costs—and we are especially focused on finally making sure insulin is affordable for everyone who needs it.”
“Lifesaving drugs don’t do any good if people can’t afford them—but we’re going to fix that,” added Senator Murray.
“Costs for prescription drugs like insulin have skyrocketed. And it’s time for Congress to do something about that—to act to lower the cost of this lifesaving drug and others for the people who need them,” said Senator Warnock. “If you need insulin, you need insulin. It’s not a mere inconvenience if you can’t have access to it.”
“For the hard-working families at my church and ordinary folks that I know—people are paying record prices at the same time pharmaceutical companies are making record profits,” added Senator Warnock. “And that’s why I introduced the Affordable Insulin Now Act.”
During Thursday’s roundtable, Senators Murray and Warnock heard from constituents who shared how the exorbitant cost of insulin—which has tripled in the last decade—forces them to make unacceptable sacrifices and tradeoffs.
“I first rationed insulin back in 2009. I graduated into the recession and I aged out of my parent’s insurance. The cost of my insulin was more than the cost of my rent, and I was juggling food, rent, my insulin, as well as my life,” said Kevin Wren, a type 1 diabetes patient from Washington state. “I am still helping people who are rationing insulin and crowdsourcing insulin, and this is really untenable.”
“I am a 13-year-old Georgia public school teacher and the proud mom of three boys who have significant medical issues,” said Shannon, a Georgia mother whose son was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “Our type one journey started last summer when my children went for their yearly well child checkups and my son James was officially diagnosed with type one diabetes. I was very fortunate that I had put the full amount of money into my health savings account the previous year, and I was able to afford the $900 copays to let him come home from the hospital. That is a lot for a family like mine on a public school teacher salary. Our summer plans were completely disrupted. We did not go on our annual vacation. The children did not get their new prescription eyeglasses. We didn’t get wisdom teeth out and braces put on because when it comes to prescription eyeglasses or insulin, insulin is going to win out every time.”
“As Americans, we shouldn’t have to choose between the roof over our heads, our children’s braces or eyeglasses, food, or insulin to keep a loved one alive,” said Shannon.
In March, Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation that temporarily caps the cost of a 30-day supply of insulin to $35 for one year, starting next year. The Affordable Insulin Now Act, introduced by Senator Warnock and supported by Senator Murray, would cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month permanently.
Senator Murray is also working to pass proposals that would lower costs for families by giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, cracking down on outrageous price increases, and capping seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs.
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