Republicans block cap on insulin costs for many Americans from Democratic deal

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 19, 2022.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Republican senators on Sunday voted down a cap on the price of insulin in the private market, removing it from Democrats’ sweeping climate and economic package.

Democrats had tried to preserve the provision to cap insulin costs at $35 for private insurers, but that vote failed 57-43, with seven Republicans voting with them to keep the insulin cost cap in the bill, three short of what was needed.

The move was expected following a decision by the Senate parliamentarian, who determined earlier that the insulin provision was not compliant with the chamber’s strict budget rules. Democrats need to comply with those rules to advance the legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, without any Republican votes.

The legislation, however, still includes a $35 copay cap on the price of insulin for seniors on Medicare.

Following the vote, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., accused Republicans of caving to pressures from the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of citizens.

“Republicans have just gone on the record in favor of expensive insulin,” Wyden said in a statement. “After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once against wilted in the face of heat from Big Pharma.”

“Fortunately, the $35 insulin copay cap for insulin in Medicare remains in the bill, so seniors will get relief from high insulin costs. I will continue working to deliver lower insulin costs to all Americans,” he added.

Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Josh Hawley of Missouri; Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska joined Democrats in voting to keep the insulin cap for private insurers on Sunday.

Senators have been working through the weekend on amendment votes after the chamber advanced the bill Saturday in a 51-50 procedural vote, with all Republicans opposing the motion to proceed with the bill and Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

Senate Democrats are aiming to pass the legislation on Sunday, bringing long-stalled elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda, including major spending to combat climate change and extend health care coverage, one step closer to reality. The package will then head to the House, which is currently planning to pass it on Friday.

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