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Rush Introduces Insulin Access For All Act to Eliminate Cost Sharing for Insulin Under Medicare and Medicaid

July 2, 2021

2021 marks 100 years since insulin was first discovered

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced his introduction of the Insulin Access for All Act of 2021 (H.R. 4158), which is cosponsored by more than three dozen Members of the House Democratic Caucus and would eliminate the cost-sharing requirement — including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance — for insulin under Medicare and Medicaid.

"One in ten Americans have diabetes, and yet, the price of insulin has soared to a point that many are left making heart-wrenching and desperate decisions to afford a drug that is increasingly out of reach. There is no reason, in the richest country in the world, that individuals should be left without meaningful access to medication they need to survive," said Rep. Rush. "I am proud to introduce this legislation, with significant support from my House colleagues, to tackle this issue head-on by making insulin completely free for individuals enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, who represent some of the most vulnerable populations of diabetics."

2021 marks 100 years since insulin was discovered — prior to its discovery, people with type 1 diabetes rarely lived for more than one or two years. In 1921, the scientists who isolated insulin sold the patent for this procedure to the University of Toronto for $3, and for decades, insulin was affordable for those who relied on it. But despite the fact that insulin can be produced profitably for just a few dollars, manufacturers have increasingly marked up the price — in some cases, by as much as 5,000 percent. Between 2012 and 2016, the cost of insulin nearly doubled.

As a result, many Americans with diabetes have no choice but to resort to desperate measures when they cannot afford insulin, including using expired insulin, relying on crowdfunding to pay their bills, or taking less insulin than they need in an effort to ration their supplies. Rationing is extremely dangerous and has caused many deaths. This legislation is a step towards ensuring that no one is forced to make the life-threatening decision to ration their insulin.

Approximately 1.3 million adults in Illinois have diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and over 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations are more likely to be living with diabetes than White and Asian populations. By 2030, 79 million adults with type 2 diabetes are expected to need insulin to manage their condition.

"Rep. Rush and his colleagues are introducing the Insulin Access for All Act at a uniquely important time when, during this pandemic, one in four Americans with diabetes report rationing their insulin, other medications or diabetes supplies. This year also marks 100 years since the discovery of insulin," said Tracey Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. "The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is pleased to support this bill, which provides much-needed help for people with diabetes on Medicare and Medicaid who struggle to afford the insulin they depend on to survive."

44 Members of the House Democratic Caucus have cosponsored the legislation: U.S. Representatives Alma S. Adams (N.C.), Nanette Diaz Barragan (Calif.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Anthony G. Brown (Md.), Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (Ga.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), André Carson (Ind.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Yvette D. Clarke (N.Y.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Danny K. Davis (Ill.), Val Demings (Fla.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Dwight Evans (Pa.), Jesús G. "Chuy" Garcia ( Ill.), Sylvia R. Garcia (Tex.), Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), Jahana Hayes (Conn.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr. (Ga.), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.), Robin L. Kelly (Ill.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Donald Payne (N.J.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), Deborah Ross (N.C.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (M.P.), Terri A. Sewell (Ala.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Mark Takano (Calif.), Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Marc A. Veasey (Tex.), and Nydia Velázquez (N.Y).

The full text of the bill is available HERE.

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Issues:Health Care