A quarter of the people who need insulin are skipping doses because of soaring prices, but new legislation would cap monthly costs at $35.
The cost of insulin has soared over the last few years, and a quarter of the people who need the life-saving drug are skipping doses because of it. So the US House passed a bill last week to make sure that no one who needs insulin would pay more than $35 a month.
All but one of North Carolina’s Republican members of Congress voted against the bill.
The monthly cost of insulin rose from an average of $344 in 2012 to $666 in 2016, and the cap proposal could help millions of diabetic Americans and North Carolinians. One in five North Carolinians have diabetes, and uncontrolled diabetes can lead to vision and hearing loss, heart and kidney disease, and other serious issues. And according to a New York Times analysis of several studies, people with diabetes account for up to 40% of total deaths in the US.
All five Democratic Representatives voted for the bill to cap the monthly costs, and Richard Hudson was the only NC Republican to do so. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it will need to gain at least 10 Republican votes to pass.
North Carolina’s US Senators, Republicans Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, introduced similar legislation in 2019 that would cap monthly insulin costs at $50, part of a larger bill to address prescription drug prices. But US Rep. Virginia Foxx, the only NC Republican who explained her “no” vote on last week’s House bill, criticized any federal efforts to establish costs, a common view in the party.
The House bill, Foxx said on the House floor last week, was “a massive power grab” and a “dangerous precedent,” that would “lead our country one step closer to socialized medicine.”
She added, “There is no such thing as a free-market system when government bureaucrats control prices.” Only 12 House Republicans voted for the bill.
On March 31, the day of the vote, US Rep. Ted Budd, who is running for US Senate, announced he’d won a “Guardian of Seniors’ Rights” award from the “60 Plus Association,” a conservative group. He did not mention his vote against the insulin cap.
According to the National Library of Medicine, 21% of North Carolinians 65 or older have diabetes.
This article has been updated to clarify US Rep. Ted Budd’s title.