193 House Republicans vote to keep insulin prices high

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Only 12 Republicans in the House of Representatives joined all Democrats to vote for the Affordable Insulin Now Act.

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% of the negotiated insurance price.

According to the website GoodRx Health, the average price for insulin spiked by 54% 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% 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.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.