Virginia lawmaker pushes for lower insulin prices for all Americans

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 10:09 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Biden administration held a celebration this week in honor of the president signing the Inflation Reduction Act. However, millions of Americans who need lifesaving healthcare are feeling left out of the festivities.

“This law is for you,” said President Joe Biden Tuesday at the White House. The president said the Inflation Reduction Act is “the single most important legislation passed in this Congress” and “one of the most significant laws in our nation’s history.”

“But it doesn’t do enough,” said Aaron Turner-Phifer, director of health policy at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

According to its website, the JDRF “is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research.” Turner-Phifer thinks the Inflation Reduction Act takes important steps to lower insulin costs but much more needs to be done to ensure everyone has access to affordable insulin.

“We’re also calling for the immediate passage, passage of the INSULIN Act, which does two important things. It confers the out-of-pocket cap protections on the commercial side as well as on the Medicare side. It also incentivizes lowering list prices so everyone benefits,” said Turner-Phifer.

The Inflation Reduction Act will cap insulin costs for Medicare patients at $35 a month starting next year. Yet, the idea of making insulin cheaper for diabetics with private insurance, also known as the INSULIN Act, was blocked by Senate Republicans.

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who voted for the bill, said she is disappointed the broader proposal did not get more support.

“I think it’s an important step to demonstrate the value and the impact that capping insulin will have, this first step among seniors. And certainly I’m going to keep continuing to ensure that insulin is affordable for people of all ages,” said Spanberger.

Meanwhile, the AARP is thrilled about the savings the law will have for seniors and the organization is now focused on making sure the Inflation Reduction Act is properly implemented.

“This is going to be a really big change to the way pharmaceuticals are priced in this country. And we don’t have much time to get it done. So we want to make sure it gets done and that gets done right,” said Bill Sweeney, senior vice president of government affairs.

Turner-Phifer says the JDRF is continuing to have conversations with senators to try and gather more support for the INSULIN Act because it is a “life or death issue.” The bill previously received bipartisan support but came up three votes short.