‘Hands off the insulin provision’: Schumer tells GOP not to touch affordable diabetic medication plan in Build Back Better agenda

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Senator Chuck Schumer fights to keep insulin $35 cap in Build Back Better plan.
Photo by Dean Moses

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Republicans Sunday for considering cutting affordable insulin provisions for diabetics as the Senate begins considering, and likely scaling back, the multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better bill that the House passed Friday.

It’s been a rocky road for the Build Back Better bill, a framework that is set to provide economic relief through social safety nets as well as tackling climate change, racial equity, civil rights and immigration reform.

After months of pushback, the bill was finally able to pass in the House on Nov. 19 and is set to be on the chopping block in the eyes of Republican opposition.

During a Nov. 21 press conference outside his Midtown office, Schumer advocated for one of the provisions of the Build Back Better plan to remain intact, something he believes could be the difference between life and death for many Americans — insulin. Prescription and medical care costs have skyrocketed over the years, leaving those who depend on insulin to, at times, ration their medication.

In disgust, Schumer stated that Republicans are thoroughly opposed to the bill that would provide a safety net for many middle- and low-income Americans, despite much constituent support. A law that regulates copay prices for insulin so that medication costs will not exceed $35 is one of the key components he believes the GOP will aim to shoot down.

Senator Chuck Schumer fights to keep insulin $35 cap in Build Back Better plan.Photo by Dean Moses

Currently, Schumer states that the prescription cost for insulin ranges from $200 to $600 per vial—an astronomical amount for those who are on a fixed income or living paycheck-to-paycheck.

“Tens of millions of Americans depend on insulin,” Schumer said.

This issue is close to the senator’s heart, explaining his father-in-law, who worked as a taxi driver, ultimately died of diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is one of the top ten leadings causes of death in the United States — some 87,647 individuals perished from diabetic-related illness in 2019.

“We are here today to tell the GOP to lay off! Do not try to attempt to kill this provision,” Schumer said, “Ten years ago insulin was cheap and easy and accessible. But all of a sudden, it’s gone up 12%, 15%, 17% a year, so now it’s as high as $600. And this is not a drug on patent. This is not one of those things that’s protected by patent. So, there’s no reason the cost should be so high. So today, I’m announcing that as Majority Leader, I will do everything I can to keep this provision in the BBB bill and get the cost of insulin down to $35 an injection.”

Schumer implores for his Republican colleagues to stand down, and back this provision like the American Diabetes Association and the Endocrine Society, and the millions of constituents who suffer from this disease.

He hopes to have the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill passed in the house by Christmas.