I’ve just witnessed the failure of our U.S. Senate to pass a nationwide $35 insulin copay cap. This is alongside the failure of our U.S. Senate to do even ONE THING to control costs for patients and hold insulin manufacturers accountable for unconscionable and unjust rises in insulin list prices.
Tears of anger, disgust, frustration, and betrayal are falling as so many of us who depend on insulin injections for our very survival are used as political pawns by both Republicans and Democrats. They’ve used our names, comments, stories, and op-eds to talk about insulin costs, but when it comes down to doing anything, our stories are quickly lost. Since my beginnings in state-level advocacy, I’ve always said the rising cost of insulin is not a partisan issue — it’s an ‘everybody’ issue. Amazing advocates with diabetes in the Commonwealth have worked together to educate members of our state legislature to help unanimously pass life-saving bills such as Kevin’s Law and a $30 insulin copay cap on state-regulated insurance plans.
But today feels like a final demise of the ability of the federal government to do anything with bipartisanship. Members of Congress and state legislatures continue to rake in campaign donations from Big Pharma while uninsured constituents are forced to live the 24/7/365 stress of how they will pay for next month’s insulin or supplies. If you’ve ever sat on the high horse of “well, just search for coupons” or “patient assistance programs!”, let me be very clear here. Coupons are what we use for a cheaper cup of coffee or paper towels but should never be an answer for life-sustaining insulin that’s as crucial as air and water.
Insulin costs are ultimately a federal issue, and so I’m left asking Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell: what would you have said to Owensboro native Kayla Davis as her body screamed in pain from DKA and died shortly after using her last drops of insulin?What do you have to say to me when I’ve been laid off as an airline professional and am immediately left without insurance at the end of a month? Or when my insurance plan drops the insulin that works best for my body? Copay caps won’t help me then. I’ve been denied assistance and coupons multiple times, and my only saving grace has been help from friends and family.
A federal list price cap for insulin costing less than $6 to make would not only save money across the board as copay caps are applied to insurance plans, but it also protects the uninsured from facing devastating choices between life or death.
As founder and advocate with T1International’s Kentucky #insulin4all chapter, I’m holding the U.S. Congress responsible for every death from rationing insulin. You are failing miserably. Change this. Agree to meet with us and simply listen as we tell our stories and supply legislative solutions that we know works for us. With insulin costing less than $6/vial to produce and supplied to a captive market who will die without it, greed has run far too rampant. We’ve rightfully made noise when we are price-gouged for fuel and groceries, and we are rightfully making noise now when we are continuously being price-gouged for basic insulin that only you have the power to fix. But, do you have the guts to do it? We will see. And we will vote accordingly.
Angela Lautner is the founder and advocate of Kentucky #insulin4all Chapter. t1international.com/KY