Insulin price caps for private markets on life support with condensed Senate schedule

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The campaign season, competing legislation and the unknown of the lame duck session could prevent the Senate from acting on a bill to cap insulin costs, despite the efforts of lawmakers behind the bill law to move it forward.

“I am pleased that Senate Democrats have made important strides in addressing skyrocketing insulin costs in the Cut Inflation Act, but these provisions are just the beginning. to grasp the full extent of these rising costs, we need a comprehensive solution,” the senator said. Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement Friday. “We have seen bipartisan support for the initial insulin provisions in the IRA, and I believe we can build on this progress in the weeks to come.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., promised during an appearance on MSNBC last month that the Senate would vote on caps on insulin prices in private plans.

But the path looks more and more difficult with a busy senatorial calendar. And Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the GOP’s chief sponsor of the legislation, says she blames Schumer for making the bill harder to pass by decoupling price caps for Medicare beneficiaries from caps. similar private plans.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen is the lead sponsor of a Senate bill to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin.
(Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images)

“I think our path is more difficult because of Senator Schumer’s decision, which was contrary to what he told me, to sever parts of the bill and put it in reconciliation,” Collins said. to reporters on Thursday.

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“Jeanne and I still believe that our bill has a lot of merit and would solve the problem that reconciliation does not apply to the commercial market, nor does it solve the underlying problem of discounts and high list prices,” also Collins said. “The $35 cap for Medicare doesn’t really address the inherent conflicts of interest in how insulin gets to consumers.”

Time might be the most important factor in whether Collins and Shaheen get a vote on their bill.

Senator Susan Collins is the Senate's top Republican sponsor on a bill to cap insulin prices.

Senator Susan Collins is the Senate’s top Republican sponsor on a bill to cap insulin prices.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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The Senate is already set to vote on several judicial confirmations early next week. After that, a bill to protect same-sex marriage rights at the federal level is expected to be introduced as early as next week, though Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said she expects it slips to “next week”. “

If the same-sex marriage bill passes, which its supporters are optimistic about, the next item on the Senate’s agenda will be a funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. It may take a long time with progressives and Republicans questioning Schumer’s deal with Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., to include permission to reform energy projects in exchange for his vote on the Inflation Reduction Act.

Democrats are looking for an easy victory before the midterms, they will spin it any way they want and ignore the true cost to Americans who depend on insulin. Republicans should not participate in a socialist price-fixing system.

— Representative Kevin Hern, R-Okla.

Once this bill crosses the finish line, Schumer may send everyone home to campaign rather than keep the Senate in session until October.

That could push any conversation about insulin pricing into the lame duck session in November and December, when congressional priorities could be dramatically different. A senior Democrat, however, said the insulin bill was something they wanted to do and were “discussing the best way forward”.

If the Senate gets to the Shaheen-Collins legislation, supporters are optimistic it can pass. Seven Republicans voted to overturn the Senate’s “Byrd rule” and allow a cap on the price of commercial insulin in the “vote-a-rama” on Democrats’ social spending and tax bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last month that the Senate would vote separately on a bill to cap insulin prices.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last month that the Senate would vote separately on a bill to cap insulin prices.
(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

In an interview with the Portland Press-Herald last month, Collins pointed out that as evidence, she can get even more votes outside the context of a massive party-line bill.

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GOP opponents of the legislation, meanwhile, question why Republicans would be willing to support what they say is nothing more than big government interference in the marketplace.

“It’s not politics, it’s a fact: the only way to really lower prices without hurting quality is to increase competition in the open market. Any effort to fix prices will only drive those product costs to your premiums,” said rep Kevin Hern. , R-Okla., one of the most vocal opponents of the legislation in the House, told Fox News Digital. “Democrats are looking for an easy victory before the midterms, they’ll spin it any way they want and ignore the true cost to Americans who depend on insulin. Republicans shouldn’t participate in a socialist price-fixing system. ”

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