Republicans block cap on patient insulin costs

Republican lawmakers on Sunday successfully stripped a $35 price cap on the cost of insulin for many patients from the ambitious legislative package Democrats are moving through Congress this weekend, invoking arcane Senate rules to jettison the measure.

The insulin cap is a long-running ambition of Democrats, who want it to apply to patients on Medicare and private insurance. Republicans left the portion that applies to Medicare patients untouched but stripped the insulin cap for other patients. Bipartisan talks on a broader insulin pricing bill faltered earlier this year.

The Senate parliamentarian earlier in the weekend ruled that part of the Democrats’ cap, included in the Inflation Reduction Act, did not comply with the rules that allow them to advance a bill under the process known as reconciliation—a tactic that helps them avert a GOP filibuster. That gave the Republicans an opening to jettison it.

“Republicans have just gone on the record in favor of expensive insulin,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. “After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once against wilted in the face of heat from Big Pharma.”

Some Republicans did support the price cap in the 57-43 vote for the measure, but not enough joined Democrats in support of it to meet the threshold for passage.

More than 1 in 5 insulin users on private medical insurance pay more than $35 per month for the medicine, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Some 7 million Americans require insulin daily. A Yale University study found that 14% of those insulin users are spending more than 40% of their income after food and housing costs on the medicine.

Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of insulin along with Novo Nordisk of Denmark and Sanofi of France.

Despite an adverse ruling from the chamber’s parliamentarian, Democrats opted to keep the full price cap provision in the bill anyway. That gave Republicans, led in debate by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an opening for a challenge on the Senate floor. Democrats would have needed 60 votes—their entire caucus plus the support of 10 GOP members—to beat back that challenge. They came up short.

GOP lawmakers had earlier tried to offer their own, more scaled-back version of an insulin price limit, but Democrats rejected it as too narrow. Several GOP lawmakers supported an proposal from Louisiana Senator John Kennedy to subsidize insulin purchases for low-income individuals.

The fight was a policy loss for Democrats, but it was also a political win, as lowering the price of drugs like insulin is popular with voters.

“The only way it doesn’t pass is if folks on the other side of the aisle decide to block it,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., who had previously put forward legislation calling for a price cap.

“The cost of insulin isn’t just out of control, it is devastating people,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said on the Senate floor, imploring the GOP not to strip the price cap from the bill. “This should not be a hard vote to cast.”

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20 thoughts on “Republicans block cap on patient insulin costs

    1. You mean like Democrats who just passed a bill to increase taxes on oil, coal, and natural gas? Because people just aren’t paying enough for energy?

    2. That’s because Dominic has been drinking the kool-aid. He probably believes when Mitch was talking about how these changes would impose tax increases. What Mitch didn’t say was “impose tax increases on Rich Republicans”, hoping to rile the Democrats. Sort of like Donald T. Rump signing the bill which he said would, “Lower your taxes to manageable levels.” However, he left out the part of who “your” was – Rich Republicans.

    3. Pull your head out of the sand. All those tax increase were part of the so called “inflation reduction” bill the Democrats in congress just passed. The Dems and Kristen Sinema also made sure to protect carried interest so the hedge fund boys won’t get a tax increase. You really need to discuss facts, not DNC propaganda points

    4. I know the left side of the room hates facts, but here they are anyway:

      $6.5 Billion Natural Gas Tax Which Will Increase Household Energy Bills
      The bill imposes a regressive tax on American oil and gas development. The tax will drive up the cost of household energy bills. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the natural gas tax will increase taxes by $6.5 billion.

      $12 Billion Crude Oil Tax Which Will Increase Household Costs
      With gas averaging more than $4.00 per gallon across the country and only weeks removed from record-high prices, Democrats have included a 16.4 cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil and imported petroleum products that will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.

      $1.2 Billion Coal Tax Which Will Increase Household Energy Bills
      The bill would more than double current excise taxes on coal production. Under the Democrat proposal, the tax rate on coal from subsurface mining would increase from $0.50 per ton to $1.10 per ton while the tax rate on coal from surface mining would increase from $0.25 per ton to $0.55 per ton. This will raise $1.2 billion in taxes that will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills.

    5. I’m willing to accept that I’m incorrect but I don’t see these as bad things. Taxation is an anti-inflation strategy through tapping down demand, taxing products that have negative externalities to fund cleaner energy, reduce carbon, scale up cleaner technologies (thereby reducing household costs) and incentivize abandoning energy sources that are harmful is good.

      “Regressive tax on oil and gas” is hilarious, that’s a good one. The oil and gas industry aren’t suffering. They are cranking in billions. This isn’t regressive by definition.

    6. Don’t forget that incentives to leave coal and scale up clean energy have, so far, worked pretty well. Costs rose post-COVID, but that’s not unique to energy. Taxation, incentives, investment, and regulation of energy has led coal demand to plummet, while energy costs through the Obama-era stayed relatively flat. Meanwhile, cost per KwH for renewables has dropped dramatically.

    7. Dominic threw out some SCARY numbers. The coal tax doubled!, Coal runs about $35 a ton, so it doubled from about 1.5% to 3%, raising the price of coal by 1.5%.

      If you look at tax rates on Gas, it still sounds like to Coal lobbyists are just doing a better job of getting their message across to the RNC and then on to Dominic, cause from my point of view for the cost that are passed on to the rest of the planet, the coal industry is still getting a bargain.

    8. AT –

      Taxes on corporations absolutely hurt low income earners.
      Taxes are a cost of doing business and will passed on to the consumers
      in the form of higher prices.

      Something the Dems and their supporters have never comprehended.

      Start raising the corporate tax rate and increasing regulations, companies
      will look else where for future economic expansions.

    9. Coal is coming back because coal is cheap, abundant, and reliable.
      Three coal mines in southern Indiana are reopening because renewables
      are not reliable. The utilities must maintain a base load of fossil fuels
      to maintain operating capacity.

      Renewables can help supplement the baseload at best.

      Renewables have come down in price. But they are also heavily subsidized.
      That’s why renewables are being built.

  1. Remember, all.

    The Republican Party are not your friends. They will not help you. They do not care about you. They care about money and big-cash donors.

    1. Wow, you must be drinking the kool-aid also. BOTH parties care about the money and big cash donors. It’s the spin that fools the gullible constituents!

    2. Neither are good, but only one of those two parties is advocating for actively hurting people and denying services.

    3. The Republicans don’t seem to have a platform anymore, or if they do it is negative partisanship. The official Republican policy seems to be whatever makes the other side look bad, regardless of who it might hurt.

      Take a look at Burn Pit Veteran benefits. They were for it. They were against it, and after it made them REALLY look bad, they were for it again.

      No official policy, except maybe to “own the libs”.

    4. LOL…..Dems don’t care about cash and big money doners!?!?
      That is the funniest thing I’ve heard.

      Big Dem donners include –
      Billionaire class
      Global Corporations

    1. Dom, you’re all over the place…like a pinball bouncing off the rubber guardrails seeking to score additional points but, alas, ending going now the gutter and gaining nothing.

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