Rush Remarks at Press Conference on the Skyrocketing Cost of Insulin Impacting Illinois Residents

May 6, 2019
Press Release

CHICAGO — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) delivered the following remarks at a press conference at the Ambulatory Care Center to discuss the impact of diabetes on Illinois residents and the skyrocketing cost of insulin.  He was joined by Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Jesus G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.).

Members of Congress discussed legislation that will lower health costs and prescription drug prices for individuals across America, including the Insulin Access for All Act, cosponsored by 48 colleagues, including Representatives. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Chuy Garcia.  They unveiled new reports issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which outlines the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured in each of the Representatives Congressional Districts.

Rush Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

Good morning! Thank you all for joining us.

And thank you to St. Bernard Hospital CEO, Charles Holland, for opening the hospital’s doors to us today.

And for the important work the three-year old Ambulatory Care Center has been able to do in providing health care services in the medically underserved community of Englewood and surrounding communities.

We are here today because we are downright outraged by the staggering and immoral cost of insulin in America. 

Across this great nation 30 million people suffer from diabetes.

Including the 1.3 million Illinois residents.

These Americans are facing unbelievable prices for this critical life-saving drug. 

The price for insulin has gone from $20 per vial in 1996 to about $275 per vial today with individuals often needing multiple vials per month.

That is truly unbelievable, but I am glad that my fellow colleagues, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi and Chuy Garcia are joining me to tackle this problem head on.

I am also glad that we have medical professionals, advocates, and patients here with us today to join in the fight against the outrageous price of insulin.

For people with diabetes, access to their medications is a matter of life and death.

And I have to tell you, I am sick and tired of hearing the stories from across the country of people who have died because they were rationing their insulin because they could not afford their medication.

That should not happen in America.

We cannot sit back as diabetes patients are compromising their health, and even dying, due to the high price of their medications.

It’s time to act.

I recently requested a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured in my district and the findings are staggering.

Drug companies have repeatedly increased the price of their diabetes drugs for the past two decades despite a study published last September that estimated manufacturers could charge between $7 and $11 for insulin and still make a profit.

While insurance covers some of the costs, insulin is all-too-often unaffordable for the 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries in my district who depend on it to survive.

There are nearly 50,000 uninsured residents in my district and they bear the entire burden of their high prescription drug prices.

It can cost a senior on Medicare living right here in Chicago over $1,400 a year to pay for their diabetes medication.

That is unacceptable, and it is past time to rein in the out-of-control costs of insulin and other diabetes drugs.

To combat this issue, I introduced the Insulin Access for All Act, cosponsored by 48 colleagues, including Representatives. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Chuy Garcia.

My legislation ensures that Medicare and Medicaid recipients pay nothing out-of-pocket for their insulin.

This bill eliminates the cost-sharing requirement — including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurances — for insulin under both Medicare and Medicaid.

I truly believe this is the right approach because diabetes is an epidemic, and we must ensure access to affordable medication for this disease.

With the help of my colleagues, we are going to take meaningful steps toward bringing down the price of prescription drugs.