Legislation Aims To Cut Insulin Costs

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed is pushing new legislation that aims to cut the cost of insulin.

Reed and Diana DeGette (D-CO), co-chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, introduced new legislation this week that aims to cut the price of most insulin products by more than 75%.

Known as the Insulin Price Reduction Act, it would give the nation’s three makers of insulin an incentive to lower the current list price of their insulin products, which is approximately $300 a vial, to the price it was listed at in 2006, which was, on average, approximately $68 a vial.

In exchange for lowering the price of their insulin products back to their 2006 list prices, the legislation would protect the nation’s insulin makers from having to offer any additional rebates to insurers in order to have their products covered.

It would also prohibit health insurers from refusing to cover any insulin product that had its price reduced under the terms of the bill.

“As the father of a type 1 diabetic, I care about lowering the cost of insulin,” Reed said. “We have seen far too many stories of people rationing, driving across the border to Canada, or flat out going without insulin because of the high costs. This isn’t fair, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, common sense bill to dramatically slash the price of this crucial drug so many Americans rely on to get through the day.”

If approved, the legislation is designed to end the industry’s use of drug-manufacturer rebates that are offered only to insurers to lower the cost of the prescription drugs they agree to cover, but that do nothing to help lower the price that consumers without health care coverage, or those who have not yet met their deductible, are forced to pay.

When insurers decide which drugs it will provide coverage for each year, they often pay close attention to the size of the rebate that a drug manufacturer is offering to insurers that agree to cover their product.

As the size of the rebate that insurers have come to expect from drug manufacturers has continued to grow, so too has the pressure on drug makers to increase the list price of their products in order to afford the sizeable rebates that many insurers are now expecting.

While increasing both a drug’s list price and the rebate that a manufacturer offers along with it does little to affect either the drug maker’s or the insurer’s bottom line – the practice is having a devastating effect on millions of Americans who don’t have health care coverage, or have not yet reached their deductible, and are forced to pay the full, now-inflated list price.

Under the terms of DeGetteand Reed’s bill, any insulin manufacturer that agrees to set the list price of their insulin at, or below, the price it was listed at in 2006 would be legally barred from offering insurers any additional rebates on that product – a key provision that eliminates the leverage insurers have to pressure companies to offer the sizeable rebates that are driving up costs.

It would also prohibit health insurers from refusing to cover any insulin product that had its price reduced under the terms of the bill.

The legislation now heads to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where DeGette serves as a senior member, for consideration.

A similar version of the bill was introduced recently in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tom Carper (D-DE).


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