Health

House Democrats Pass Drug Price Fixing Bill That Moderates Previously Blocked

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would cap the price of insulin at $35 a month, legislation that several moderates voted against during Build Back Better negotiations.

The Affordable Insulin Now Act, introduced by Democratic Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig, passed the lower chamber mostly along party lines, 232-193. Republicans whipped against the bill prior to its passage, with Minority Whip Steve Scalise saying in a recommendation to the House Republican Conference that the legislation would “result in fewer cures and less access for Americans to doctors and drugs.”

The bill limits Medicare and private insurance deductibles for insulin to no more than $35 a month or 25% of a health care plan’s negotiated price.

Georgians can’t wait one more day for affordable insulin, and Congress can’t wait another day to take action,” Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, who introduced the companion bill in the Senate, tweeted before the vote.

Democrats have repeatedly promoted legislation that would allow Congress to set the price of drugs like insulin through Medicare and included a provision doing so in the Build Back Better social spending package. The provision was rejected by the House Energy and Commerce Committee after three Democrats voted with all Republicans to block it, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reinserted it into BBB through the Education and Labor Committee.

Twelve Republicans joined all 220 present Democrats in voting in favor of the legislation. All three Democrats who previously opposed the provision, Kathleen Rice of New York, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Scott Peters of California, voted in favor of the bill Thursday. (RELATED: Anti-Big Pharma Group To Launch First Ad Campaign Targeting A Democrat Instead Of A Republican)

The bill “represents the largest expansion of federal command and control in Americans’ private health insurance design since Obamacare,” according to Scalise’s whipping recommendation, reviewed by the Daily Caller.

Opponents, including Republican leadership, argue that the legislation will increase health insurance premiums by allowing “manufacturers to raise the prices of insulin without scrutiny and higher cost-sharing on insulin products that are not price controlled by the bill.”

Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Affordable Insulin Now Act will decrease the federal deficit by $1.5 billion. However, Republicans argue that the bill would add $11.36 billion to the federal deficit through increased federal spending and decreased tax income, and that a delay of a Trump administration rule would not truly decrease costs.

“This issue is so important, I don’t think we should automatically accept a partisan proposal that doesn’t even get to the heart of the problem,” Republican Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith said during floor debate.

“Instead, we’re voting on a partisan messaging bill to give Washington a greater say in Americans’ medical decisions.”