Congress working to address burdensome insulin prices

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:54 AM PDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Insulin is costing some families in the U.S. thousands of dollars a year. The lifesaving prescription is not optional, and one Nevada mother wants to see the high prices slashed.

Suzan Smith from Las Vegas suffered a financial shock when her 17-year-old daughter Emily was diagnosed with diabetes. She says the sacrifices began immediately, and she is looking for some federal help.

“I had to start out by using some of my Christmas money,” said Smith.

Suzan paid $10 thousand per year just for Emily’s insulin. Suzan is a single mother making tradeoffs to make sure her daughter has what she needs to live, like not going out to eat.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but as a single mom that was a treat to give my family,” said Smith.

Suzan started working multiple jobs, but she fears for others who cannot do so. She wants solutions from Congress.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) was a cosponsor of the Affordable Insulin Now Act which passed the House. In short, the legislation would cap the price of insulin at $35 per month.

“Pharmaceutical companies are still making some profit and yet it becomes more reasonable for people who have diabetes to get the drug and not be bankrupt in the process,” said Titus.

Every Democrat voted for the bill and 12 Republicans joined them. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) was not one of them.

“It comes with all these federal controls which doesn’t really guarantee that you’re going to see that price go down,” said Amodei.

Amodei believes the solution is inviting more competition into the marketplace. He says there are three main manufacturers producing insulin, and if other companies are encouraged to start producing, he thinks market forces could bring a better outcome.

“Let everybody start making it and see what that does to the price, because we think that will help,” said Amodei.

The $35 cap legislation is awaiting Senate approval though it is unclear how many Republicans will jump on board. President Biden already supports capping the monthly cost.

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