Proposal aims to limit the cost of insulin

A patient holds a vial of insulin during a news conference outside the Olde Walkersville Pharmacy, July 28, 2019, in Windsor, Canada. Legislation to limit insulin costs for people with diabetes is getting a new push in the Senate. Democrats say they want to move quickly, but they'll need Republican support to get anything through an evenly divided chamber. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

A proposal pushed by Democratic Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock that aims to lower the cost of the diabetes drug insulin is making its way through Congress. A similar bipartisan House version passed last week.

There are many types of diabetes and not all diabetics use insulin. But an estimated 6 to 7 million diabetics rely on insulin to control their blood sugars. And even with insurance, many patients fork out hundreds of dollars a month out of pocket for the drug.

Warnock says his office has heard from hundreds of Georgians struggling to afford insulin. He’s throwing his weight behind a measure that would cap the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for people on Medicare and people with private health insurance plans.

“And when you hear their stories and the stories of people they know who’ve had to ration insulin in the United States of America — a drug that’s been around 100 years,” Warnock says, “I think that’s unconscionable. It’s unacceptable, and we have an opportunity to do something about it.”

If it ultimately passes the Senate, the insulin proposal would take effect beginning in 2023.

It would not help uninsured diabetics and that worries some patient advocates, who also note that diabetics shoulder the cost of a host of critical supplies needed along with the administration of insulin.

Numbers from the American Diabetes Association find diabetes accounts for $1 of every $4 spent on health care in the U.S.