From left, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., Rep. Lucy McBath, Ga., talk about their legislation aimed at capping the price of insulin, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2022. The bill would keep consumers' out-of-pocket costs at no more than $35 per month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
From left, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., Rep. Lucy McBath, Ga., talk about their legislation aimed at capping the price of insulin, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2022. The bill would keep consumers' out-of-pocket costs at no more than $35 per month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On March 31, the House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act, on a mostly party line vote of 232-193, where 12 Republicans joined their Democratic counterparts to send the legislation forward.

After the vote was held, Rep. Spanberger tweeted that she was proud to be one of the bill’s co-sponsors, because there are over 630,000 Virginians living with diabetes who rely on insulin to stay alive. Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11) was the other Virginia-based co-sponsor of the bill.

One of those Virginians is 13-year-old Joshua Davis, who is a Type 1 diabetic. Davis had the opportunity to speak during President Joe Biden’s visit to Culpeper in February, where he and Rep. Spanberger discussed the ongoing efforts to help lower prescription drug costs not just for Virginians, but for everyone across the country. 

One of the key issues Spanberger has focused on for her constituents includes finding a way to lower prescription drug prices, because they pay 10 times as much, if not more, than what patients in other countries pay for their medications. She’s heard how her constituents living with diabetes or other ailments have found it harder to plan for their futures because of skyrocketing costs.

What exactly is the Affordable Insulin Now Act?

It’s a bill that would limit cost-sharing for insulin, a drug that has been around for over 100 years, for people with private health insurance, as well as those using the Medicare prescription benefit. It would cap insulin to $35/month, or 25% of a plan’s negotiated price — whichever is lower. However, it only costs the co-pay for insulin, and doesn’t lower the overall price of the drug. The bill would not benefit those who are uninsured, who have tried to find ways to afford their medicine, or stretch doses out over a period of time, because they face the highest out-of-pocket costs for insulin.

Over the last few years, insulin prices, like many other prescription drug costs, have skyrocketed. According to 2020 data from the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States pays much higher prices for prescription drugs, including insulin, compared to other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. 

There are no regulations on prescription drug pricing in the United States, where costs are ultimately left up to manufacturers. There are only three companies that control nearly 100% of the global insulin supply: Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk. 

Pieces of legislation like the Affordable Insulin Now Act have been widely supported by the public across party lines. A similar bill, co-authored by Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen, is being worked on in the Senate as a bipartisan effort. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has introduced similar legislation, which has the support of Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.