Making Insulin More Affordable
Right now, there are more than 7.5 million Americans who are living with diabetes and rely on insulin every day to survive.
Despite their continued need for this life-saving medication, the cost of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years – making it unaffordable for some people who desperately need it. As a result, we now have people across the country who are being forced to make impossible decisions, while others are taking drastic steps - such as rationing their doses or skipping them altogether – just to make ends meet.
“Our system is broken, and the people who are suffering are the people who need insulin every second, of every minute, of every day, or they will die.”
– Rep. Diana DeGette
As Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Rep. DeGette has been leading the charge in Congress to investigate why the cost of insulin has been rising so quickly.
Rep. DeGette speaks with Denver patients and caregivers about the cost of insulin
Prior to her taking the helm of the subcommittee, Rep. DeGette – in her role as co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus – launched the first-ever congressional study to determine what Congress can do to help lower the cost of insulin.
That study, which was released in 2018, found that there were three main areas that Congress should be focusing on when it comes to trying to lower the cost of this life-saving drug:
- Increase Competition – Congress needs to find ways to increase the number of drug manufactures who are making insulin available to consumers. They also need to make it easier for those companies to get approval for new generic versions of insulin that they can then offer to consumers on the market.
- Increase Transparency – Congress needs to enact new policies that will require drug makers to provide more information to consumers, and make it easier for them to compare drug prices among various manufacturers. Congress also needs to create a system that allows consumers to appeal their insurance company’s decision not to cover a certain drug.
- Increase Drug Price Fairness – Drug makers often use a system of rebates that allow pharmacies and wholesalers to pay less for the same drug that consumers are forced to buy at a much higher price. Congress needs to enact policies that will require drug companies to offer consumers the same price they offer pharmacies and wholesalers for any drug.
For more details on what that study found, click here to read the full report: here.
As chair of the House oversight panel that’s investigating the cost of insulin, Rep. DeGette has been using what she learned in conducting that study to hold the industry accountable.
In April 2019, Rep. DeGette held the first-ever Congressional hearing in which all three U.S. manufacturers of insulin, and the nation’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers, were called in together to testify jointly as to why the cost of insulin has continued skyrocket and why they are not doing more to lower the cost of the drug.
Rep. DeGette holds a hearing on insulin pricing
After nearly 3 hours of testimony, Rep. DeGette told the companies that it was clear that the system is fully broken. She told the executives from all six companies to get together and figure out a way to lower the cost of the drug as soon as possible – and that she will be calling them all back in before her Committee this summer to check on their progress.
“Each of you has a role in this problem, and that means each of you must also have a role in identifying solutions.”
– Rep. Diana DeGette
If you’re interested, you can watch the full hearing here.
As her committee’s investigation into the price of insulin continues, Rep. DeGette has already taken several steps to try to help the millions of Americans living with diabetes.
- In May 2019, Rep. DeGette introduced legislation to continue funding a pair of Special Diabetes Programs that are working to find a cure to the disease for an additional five years, and to increase each programs funding from $150 million to $200 million a year.
- In April 2019, Rep. DeGette introduced legislation that seeks to increase competition by making it easier for drug makers to get new generic versions of insulin approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- In March 2019, Rep. DeGette introduced legislation to expand access to a free Medicare program designed to teach patients how to best manage their diabetes and cope with its effects.
- In September 2018, Rep. DeGette led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in calling on Medicare to provide coverage for artificial pancreas systems, one of the newest diabetes management technologies available to patients, which is already covered by more than two dozen of the nation’s largest private insurers.