Let’s start with a story…
Rebecca Kelly never imagined she would drive from her Madison County Kentucky home all the way to Canada just go to a pharmacy.
But she’s done it. Twice.
“This is pretty much gold to someone living with diabetes,” Kelly said, holding up a vial of insulin.
Then again, to Kelly, who has Type 1 diabetes, these aren’t just medicines.
“It’s just like oxygen,” she said. “You don’t get oxygen, you die. You don’t get insulin, you die. And that’s scary.”
The price tag makes that scarier. Before she drove to Canada, where she was able to buy insulin for $30/vial, Kelly had been paying $1,200 for a 90-day insulin supply, or $300/vial, she said.
“We are in a crisis with insulin,” said Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell. “We’re always worried about the opioid crisis, we’re worried about the COVID crisis, but we’re also in a diabetic crisis. And it’s more preventable than the other ones.”
The average price of insulin in Kentucky more than doubled from 2012 to 2016, according to data from the non-partisan non-profit Health Care Cost Institute. the cost has risen to as much as #1500 for a 90 day supply since Biden took office. Across the country, the average price of an insulin vial ranges from $96 to $390, GoodRx says.
Insulin back up to $1,500 for a 90 day supply. Thank President Biden. Big Pharma's investment paying off. Meanwhile, minimum wage increases looking iffy, trade protections disappearing, low-wage immigration influx incoming, energy jobs cut, and stimulus checks shrinking.
— Robert Barnes (@barnes_law) February 11, 2021
A brief review of the scope of the problem:
Prevalence of Diabetes (Diagnosed and Undiagnosed) In Americans
(See Detailed Methods)
Among the US population overall, crude estimates for 2018 were:
- 34.2 million people of all ages—or 10.5% of the US population—had diabetes.
- 34.1 million adults aged 18 years or older—or 13.0% of all US adults—had diabetes (Table 1a; Table 1b).
- 7.3 million adults aged 18 years or older who met laboratory criteria for diabetes were not aware of or did not report having diabetes (undiagnosed diabetes, Table 1b). This number represents 2.8% of all US adults (Table 1a) and 21.4% of all US adults with diabetes.
- The percentage of adults with diabetes increased with age, reaching 26.8% among those aged 65 years or older (Table 1a).
- Nearly 1.6 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, including about 187,000 children and adolescents
- Of the 34 million Americans who have diabetes, about 31 percent take insulin to manage the condition.
- The total direct and indirect estimated costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2017 was $327 billion.
- Total direct estimated costs of diagnosed diabetes increased from $188 billion in 2012 to $237 billion in 2017 (2017 dollars); total indirect costs increased from $73 billion to $90 billion in the same period (2017 dollars).
Insulin prices are more than eight times higher in the United States than in 32 high-income comparison nations combined, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
There is no dispute that the cost of insulin has been rising for well over a decade before 2016 and especially after ACA was implemented. The question is – did insulin costs need to remain high in 2021?
President Trump made addressing the failing ACA promises and healthcare system and reducing the cost of prescriptive medications a key campaign promise. After utilizing HHS regulatory measures and signature law to improve access to quality healthcare services, as well as, improve the standard of care, his administration turned towards making it more affordable. Read more about this here, here, and here.
President Trump signed four sweeping executive orders (July 2020) which together were designed to significantly lower the cost of prescription drugs while increasing access to life-saving medications such as insulin, for details read here.
Here is the President making the announcement in the Rose Garden:
- The first order directs federally qualified health centers to pass along massive discounts on insulin and epinephrine from drug companies to low-income Americans.
- The second order will allow the safe, legal importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where the price for identical drugs is lower.
- The third order will prohibit secret deals between drug manufacturers and pharmacy “benefit manager” middlemen, ensuring patients directly benefit from available discounts at the pharmacy counter.
- The fourth order ensures the United States pays the lowest price available among economically advanced countries for Medicare Part B drugs. The United States often pays 80 percent more for these drugs than other developed nations.
Lewiston Tribute: “While other politicians groan about the high cost of insulin — and do nothing about it — Trump changed the course with a stroke of the pen. He issued an executive order last year that would cap insulin costs at $35 a month for about a third of Medicare recipients — giving a hopeful prospect for millions of Americans with diabetes. Folks who were in line for the benefit would no longer have to choose between paying for the lifesaving drug and buying groceries.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, last July the Trump Administration released several executive orders on prescription drugs, one of them requiring federally qualified health centers to pass on discounts they receive for insulin to their patients.
So what happened?
President Joe Biden that is what.
As soon as Biden assumed office he rescinded or delayed almost every action President Trump took that was not passed by Congress directly. Giving a variety of reasons, the Biden Administration put a freeze on Trump’s E.O. concerning Insulin, and other drug-related issues. Let’s look at how the mainstream media reported the freeze at the time.
“This freeze is part of the Biden administration’s large-scale effort announced this week that will scrutinize the Trump administration’s health policies. If the previous administration’s policies raise “fact, law, or policy” concerns, the Biden HHS will delay them and consult with the Office of Management and Budget about other actions.”
The Democrat Media Mouthpieces made it very clear that the freeze was just for 60 days and in no way would raise the cost of Insulin. By now most know the drill – Prices skyrocketed and 60 days became almost a year later.
In a twist that a toddler who had been paying attention could have predicted Biden and the Democrats allowed Big Pharma to rake in profits on the backs of Insulin-dependent patients while they tinkered around with their own version of what Trump had already done. You guessed it, stuffed inside the Build Back Better Bill which passed Nov/Dec 2021 is a provision to cap Insulin to $35 a month but at a much higher cost to the Taxpayer overall and a host of other bad outcomes rolled into the legislation.
“There’s just one problem with this exciting claim about insulin: It isn’t true. Capping the price of insulin would indeed be a seismic achievement, one that diabetes patients have spent years fighting for through grassroots organizing and nonprofit initiatives like T1 International’s #insulin4all campaign. Unfortunately, what’s actually included in the legislation isn’t a price cap at all but rather an insurance copay cap. The deceptively significant difference between the two says everything about how we wound up with a deadly insulin pricing crisis to begin with, and what it will take to stop it.”
Additionally, most of the provisions in BBB related to drug costs get implemented over several years ahead as in staging them to fit Big Pharma’s agenda.
“But even if Biden and his fellow Democrats succeed in their final push to pass the legislation, a major political difficulty awaits them: Dividends from their prescription drug provisions won’t show up right away, while the pain of rising costs is real and present. Democrats will have to point to promised, not actual, savings in next year’s midterm elections.
The biggest policy change — a system for Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs — won’t begin to deliver lower costs until 2025, and then only for a selected set of 10 medicines, as well as insulin products. The number of drugs subject to negotiations would build with time, reaching 100 in six years and continuing to grow by 20 a year.”
There are real reasons why Insulin and other drugs cost so much for the American people. The Biden BBB and Democrats certainly have not corrected the causation for those reasons. But GOP Senator Chuck Grassley and others have spent two years investigating causation and their report is worth the read.
U.S. Senate Finance Committee released a 90-page bipartisan insulin investigation report by Grassley and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that revealed business practices between drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s) have been keeping the prices high. Their full report can be read here.
As one would imagine as Insulin-dependent patients screamed uncle all last year the fact-checkers worked overtime to spin all accountability away from President Biden’s decision to freeze Trump’s plan to lower costs. Both wrong and misleading they set out to parse words:
Conclusion: “Biden did not cause the rise in cost he only placed a freeze on Trump’s plans.”
If Biden never touched the order then the price would have dropped – so yes his actions caused the price increases.
The brutal truth is Biden and Democrats chose to withhold implementing a policy that would improve the standard of care and quality of life for insulin-dependent patients JUST so they could claim victory rather than Trump for a good and effective policy. Political points are all that mattered.
There aren’t a lot of things that almost every American can agree on. But I think it’s safe to say that all of us can agree that prescription drugs are outrageously expensive in this country.
It doesn’t need to be that way — and under my Build Back Better Act, it won’t be.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 6, 2021
Democrats have a long political legacy of making you suffer now, so you will thank them later.
If you found this article informative, please consider a small donation to our coffee cup to help support Conservative Journalism – or spread the word. Thank you.