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 "People are dead because Eli Lily refused to lower the cost of insulin all along, instead price gouging us and raising prices year after year for no reason other than greed."

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on March 31, 2022 to cap the price of insulin. (Photo: 2C2KPhotography/Flickr/cc)

Senate Urged to Pass Broader Reforms After House Approves Insulin Price Cap

"Now it is up to Democrats in the Senate to follow the House's lead and pass comprehensive reforms through reconciliation," said David Mitchell of Patients for Affordable Drugs Now.

Jessica Corbett

After the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to cap insulin prices, a leading patient advocacy group renewed its call for broader action to limit the costs of prescription drugs.

"In order to deliver on their promises to all patients—including those who depend on insulin—the Senate must act urgently to approve the broad provisions already passed by the House."

"The House of Representatives today voted to once again pass legislation to cap copays for insulin," said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, in a statement.

"Last fall, Democrats in the House passed a historic drug pricing reform package that included copay caps for millions of people who take insulin, Medicare negotiations to lower the price of insulin and other expensive drugs, and limits on annual drug price increases to the rate of inflation," he noted. "That package of reforms would deliver relief to all Americans."

While the Democratic Party has a clear majority in the House, the Senate's even split and rules mean that most bills can be blocked by the GOP—unless Democrats use the budget reconciliation process. Mitchell argued that "now it is up to Democrats in the Senate to follow the House's lead and pass comprehensive reforms through reconciliation."

"There are millions of patients who rely on expensive drugs who urgently need the reforms in the drug pricing package, including, most importantly, Medicare negotiation," he continued. "There is a path forward in the Senate to pass the legislation through reconciliation. In order to deliver on their promises to all patients—including those who depend on insulin—the Senate must act urgently to approve the broad provisions already passed by the House."

Mitchell added that "Americans overwhelmingly support these reforms—they must be the Senate's number one priority on drug pricing policy upon returning from the upcoming recess."

Just 12 House Republicans joined with all Democrats present Thursday evening to pass the Affordable Insulin Act Now (H.R. 6833), which would limit its cost to either $35 per month or 25% of an insurance plan's negotiated price—whichever is lower. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested the bill "paves the way" for further action on negotiating lower drug prices.

"This is a kitchen table issue," Pelosi said to reporters ahead of the bill's passage, according to NPR. "One in four Americans is forced to skip or ration doses of insulin and that's life-threatening."

"To be clear, comprehensive reform is urgently needed to lift the crushing burden of prescription drug prices weighing on our families," the speaker said on the House floor. "Democrats will never relent... until we realize our long-standing goal of lowering drug prices across the board."

The House vote comes not only in the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic but also as progressives in Congress are pushing for Medicare for All—bolstered by new research that shows roughly 112 million American adults struggle to afford healthcare.

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