NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Over 7 million people rely on insulin to manage their diabetes every single day.
As part of Democrats’ sweeping economic package, U.S. senators voted down an amendment to cap insulin at $35 per month for Americans. It did pass the cap for people on Medicare (Part D) but not those with private insurance.
“Disappointing. It was disappointing when it happened,” JDRF advocacy director Aaron Taylor-Phifer said. “This is a problem that has to get solved, has to get solved now.”
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. People with Type 1 diabetes have to take shots of insulin every day because their body doesn’t produce it.
“For folks with Type 1 diabetes, you will die if you don’t take your insulin,” Taylor-Phifer said. “So, this is a life and death decision that folks are making when they’re talking about, ‘Can I afford my insulin? Can I afford my kid’s insulin?’”
Here in Tennessee, we have the 6th highest diabetic death rate at about 30 per 100,000 people, according to the CDC.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty voted against the amendment. Seven Republican senators joined Democrats, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.
But it still fell short by three votes.
“That’s what is so frustrating, to be so close to getting these out-of-pocket protections for so many in the diabetes community,” Taylor-Phifer said. “JDRF and other stakeholders have been pushing on this issue for years.”
He did praise the Senate at some level, as it did vote to cap insulin at $35 for people on Medicare Part D.
“There is a tremendous impact for those in our community who are on Medicare,” Taylor-Phifer said.
We reached out to Blackburn and Hagerty’s offices over email and phone. As of the publishing of this article, they have not responded.
Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has said Democrats will bring another vote on the cap in the fall. Regardless of if it passes, it matters because it will force each senator to go on the record with their vote ahead of the midterm election.
The seven Republicans who voted in favor of the amendment were Hawley, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.