I have had type 1 diabetes for 25 years. Type 1 diabetes is just one of the many illnesses that people face through no fault of their own. For me, taking insulin to treat my diabetes is not optional, it is my life support.
Health conditions like diabetes put me and millions of other Americans at the mercy of greedy insurance companies and Big Pharma. In the late 1990s, a vial of insulin cost US$25. Nothing has changed, but today that same medicine costs US$340.
We live in the richest country in the world, but we exclude the price of life-saving medicines. Fortunately, we are taking back some of that power.
Thanks to the work of President Biden and Democrats in Congress, seniors are finally starting to get the lower drug costs they deserve. This August marked the one-year anniversary of the Reducing Inflation Act, which lowers the costs of prescription drugs and health coverage for millions of people in America.
On average, people who buy their own health coverage will save about $2,400 in premiums. The law also caps insulin costs for people receiving Medicare at $35 per month, which will benefit about 27,000 Minnesotans. And the Inflation Reduction Act penalizes big pharmaceutical companies for egregious price increases, which is already helping Minnesotans.
The benefits of this law are just beginning. Drug costs for seniors will soon be capped at $2,000 annually and Medicare will finally be able to negotiate lower drug prices.
The Biden administration recently announced 10 drugs that were selected for the first round of price negotiations: Eliquis for blood clots; Jardiance for blood clots and heart failure; Xarelto for blood clots and coronary or peripheral artery disease; Januvia for diabetes; Farxiga for diabetes, heart failure and chronic kidney disease; Entresto for heart failure; Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis; Imbruvica for blood cancer; Stelara for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis; and, for diabetes: Fiasp, Fiasp FlexTouch Fiasp, PenFill, NovoLog, NovoLog FlexPen and NovoLog PenFill.
To celebrate these achievements, I recently participated in Protect Our Cares’ national bus tour in St. Louis Park. I joined elected champions and other advocates to share how these important policy changes are reducing health care costs, with even more relief on the way.
Minnesota’s congressional Democrats helped pass the Inflation Reduction Act. And they have supported the Biden administration as it works to eliminate surprise medical bills and expand protections for people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cancer and diabetes.
In addition to these bold federal actions, Minnesota has made great strides to increase access to insulin and other life-saving medications through the Alec Smith Emergency Insulin Act and the newly created Prescription Drug Affordability Council. I’m glad we have leaders like Attorney General Keith Ellison and State Senator Kelly Morrison, DFL-Deephaven, fighting for people like me in the courtroom and on Capitol Hill.
As we have seen here in Minnesota, Big Pharma and their Republican allies are intent on protecting exorbitant profits over the people. After spending more than $100 million lobbying to end the Inflation Reduction Act, drug companies are suing the federal government to try to take away Medicare’s power to negotiate drug prices, just as they sued Minnesota after we pass the Alec Smith Act.
Too many Americans are cutting back on pills and skipping doses, which is damaging their health and as we saw tragically in the case of Alec Smith taking lives. Pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to burden the elderly and make taxpayers increase their sky-high profits. It’s an insult to American patients like me, who pay up to four times more for the same medications as patients in other wealthy countries.
Republicans unanimously oppose the Reducing Inflation Act and are now intensifying their war on health care, trying to repeal measures in the Reducing Inflation Act to reduce prescription drug costs, cut Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and promote junk plans that allow discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
Minnesotans depend on affordable, quality health care to live healthy, safe lives, and the Reducing Inflation Act is a historic step toward reducing costs.
We need allies from all political backgrounds to join this fight. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes and I will have to use insulin for the rest of my life.
Minnesotans need advocates in and out of elected office, and we need organizations like Protect Our Care who understand the importance of lowering drug costs, lowering health care costs, and ensuring that affordable health care is accessible to all Minnesotans and Americans. .
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