Bennet, Warnock, Colleagues Introduce New Bill to Cap Costs of Insulin in Colorado, Across the Country

The Affordable Insulin Now Act Would Require Insurers To Cap Patient Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Insulin At $35 Per Month

Washington, D.C. - Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and several colleagues to introduce new legislation that would cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for Coloradans and patients across the country. The Affordable Insulin Now Act requires Medicare plans and private group or individual plans to cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month. This will lower costs for insulin users and save money for hardworking Coloradans and Americans — many of whom are paying high costs from their own pockets for insulin and other diabetic treatments. 

“It is unacceptable that the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs like insulin forces Coloradans to make difficult financial decisions for themselves and their family,” said Bennet. “Our legislation will help ensure people with diabetes in Colorado never have to worry about whether or not they can afford their insulin. This is an important step to lower drug costs and reduce the economic burden Coloradans living with diabetes face every day.”

“Too many Georgians have or know someone who has diabetes, and too many live with the burden of treating this chronic condition with critical insulin that’s costing them more and more,” said Warnock. “At the same time, special corporate interests are seeing record profits, while everyday people are seeing record prices for drugs like insulin they need to live. I’ve long been focused on strengthening access to affordable health care and lowering costs for Georgians, and that’s why I am proud to lead the effort in the Senate to cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin. Georgians should never have to choose between paying for life’s basic essentials or life-preserving medicines.”

Approximately 311,554 people in Colorado, or 6.9% of the adult population, have diagnosed diabetes. According to one estimate, diabetics spend close to $6,000 annually on insulin alone. This is all while costs for insulin rise and insulin manufacturers pocket more revenue from sales than in prior decades. Under the Affordable Insulin Now Act, private group or individual plans would be required to cover one of each insulin dosage form (vial, pen) and insulin type (rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting) for no more than $35 per month. Medicare Part D plans, both stand-alone drug plans and Medicare Advantage drug plans, would be required to charge no more than $35 for whichever insulin products they cover in 2023 and 2024, and for all insulin products beginning in 2025.

Costs to treat diabetes have continued to rise for many Coloradans and Americans: according to the Health Care Costs Institute, insulin prices nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016 — the average price for a 40-day supply of insulin increased from $344 to $666. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical costs and lost work and wages for people with diagnosed diabetes total $327 billion yearly, and the American Diabetes Association has asserted that diabetics account for $1 of every $4 spent on health care in the U.S. At the same time, a 2021 bipartisan staff report from the Senate Finance Committee found that “[insulin] manufacturers are retaining more revenue from insulin than in the 2000s,” and that “the amount of revenue pharmaceutical manufacturers are retaining from insulin has risen.”

Bennet continues fighting in the Senate to lower the cost of skyrocketing prescription drugs. Bennet has introduced the Medicare-X Choice Act, which includes a provision to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. In September 2021, Bennet, Warnock and U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) introduced an amendment to the Build Back Better framework that would reduce prices of and increase equitable access to drugs through negotiation. In April 2021, Bennet and U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Increasing Access to Biosimilars Act, which would increase access to biosimilar drugs to help patients save money. In March 2021, Bennet introduced the Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act to tackle exorbitant prescription costs by increasing competition from generic drugs through better oversight of the Food and Drug Administration’s citizen petition process. 

In addition to Bennet and Warnock, the legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). 

The legislation is also endorsed by: Protect Our Care; American Diabetes Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers, Community Catalyst, Public Citizen, and Social Security Works.

The bill text is available HERE.