“. . . diabetes costs America $327 billion a year . . . we know the problem, and we know the costs, and we have a solution: insulin”
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to make insulin less expensive for Americans who suffer from diabetes by passing the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which Kennedy and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) introduced.
The senator’s remarks also highlight findings from his and Warnock’s bipartisan report titled, “Insulin Deserts: The Urgency of Lowering the Cost of Insulin for Everyone.” The report states that there are 813 counties in America which are “insulin deserts,” places where 16% or more of the population is uninsured and 10% or more of the population has diabetes.
Key quotes from Kennedy’s remarks are below.
“In my state, 44% of my people are affected by diabetes directly, 14% are diabetic, another 30% are pre-diabetic, and Louisiana is not the only state with those kinds of numbers. Diabetics account for $1 of every $4 spent—one out of every $4 spent—on health care in the United States of America. Think about that.
“The average cost of hospitalization for a diabetic—which, if they can’t pay for it, ultimately, we all pay—the average cost of hospitalization for diabetic patients is from $8,400 to $23,000 a year.
“And, medical costs, if you look beyond the quality-of-life issue and the moral issue of just helping people who are sick, if you look at it in terms of dollars and cents, diabetes costs America $327 billion a year—that’s in medical costs and lost work and wages and lost productivity. So, we know the problem, and we know the costs, and we have a solution: insulin.”
. . .
“Insulin doesn’t cost that much to make, and I don’t begrudge the companies who sell insulin. I don’t begrudge them making a profit, but it is bone-deep-down-to-the-marrow stupid for us to allow someone, whose diabetes can be managed by taking insulin, not to take that insulin because they can’t afford it. That’s immoral, and that makes no sense in terms of dollars and cents costs to the rest of the American people.
“And, Raphael and [my] bill would address that. It would say, ‘If you have private insurance, great, but if you don’t have any insurance at all, if you’re uninsured—and a lot of Americans become uninsured every year, maybe they don’t stay uninsured, but they become uninsured—and you’re diabetic, we’re going to cap your out-of-pocket costs at $35 per 30-day supply. So, you have no excuse not to take your insulin to address your diabetes.’
“It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do, and, Raphael and [my] bill is paid for. We’re not suggesting we go out and borrow more money.”
The Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2023 would:
- Require private group or individual plans to cover one of each insulin dosage form (i.e., vial, pen) and insulin type (i.e., rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting or long-acting) for no more than $35 per month.
- Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a program to reimburse qualifying entities for covering any costs that exceed $35 for providing a 30-day supply of insulin to uninsured patients.
- Be fully paid for by an offset, so it will not add to the deficit.
Watch Kennedy’s full remarks here.