Americans who use insulin to control their diabetes could soon save hundreds of dollars every year on the medicine, after the House passed a $35-a-month cap on insulin costs Thursday.
The bill was passed by a 232-193 vote. It now has to pass the Senate with at least 10 Republican votes, though Democrats have said they weren't sure how that might happen, the Associated Press reported.
The Affordable Insulin Now Act would limit cost-sharing under private health insurance and Medicare for a month's supply of certain insulin products to $35, or 25 percent of a plan's negotiated price, whichever is less. It would take effect in 2023.
Depending on a patient's condition and treatments, costs can now range from roughly $200 to over $1,000 a month for insulin, according to a 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation report.
If the bill does pass the Senate, it would help only people who have insurance, providing relief for privately insured patients and Medicare enrollees who are paying more out-of-pocket fees to get the medication.
Rep. Dan Kildee, one of the bill's sponsors, said the rising cost of insulin and other drugs has gotten out of control.
"As a father of a Type 1 diabetic, I have seen firsthand how the high price of prescription drugs like insulin can harm patients and harm families," the Democrat from Michigan said on the House floor before the vote, NBC News reported. "When my daughter turned 26 and got her own health insurance, there were months where she spent a third of her take home pay - because she's diabetic - on staying alive."
According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37.3 million Americans have diabetes.
In his State of the Union address on March 1, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to cut prescription drug prices, including insulin.
"Imagine what it's like to look at your child who needs insulin and have no idea how you're going to pay for it," Biden said. "Let's cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month so everyone can afford it. Drug companies will still do very well."
The American Diabetes Association has more on insulin.
SOURCE: Associated Press; NBC News