July 20, 2019

Lawmakers in Both Parties Vow to Rein In Insulin Costs

Lawmakers in Both Parties Vow to Rein In Insulin Costs

Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, who presided over the hearing as the chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said, “The people who are suffering are the people who need insulin every second of every minute of every day or they will die.”

Ms. DeGette, who has a 25-year-old daughter with diabetes and is a leader of the Congressional Caucus on Diabetes, said she saw a high likelihood of bipartisan agreement on legislation to address the problem. Lawmakers will work with drug companies and pharmacy benefit managers, she said.

Although she represents a liberal Denver district, Ms. DeGette has a history of working with Republicans on health legislation like the 21st Century Cures Act, adopted in 2016 to speed the discovery of cures for killer diseases.

The chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Frank Pallone Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, told the witnesses that he believed in a competitive market built on private enterprise, but that many of his constituents were losing faith in it.

“My constituents are disgusted,” Mr. Pallone said, adding, “What they tell me is: ‘Just set the price. You the Congress or some government agency should set the price, and that’s it.’”

The drug companies generally endorsed a proposal by President Trump to outlaw payment of rebates unless they are passed on to consumers. The pharmacy benefit managers said premiums would go up if they no longer received rebate payments.

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to approve a bill that requires drug manufacturers to publicly justify large price increases for existing drugs and high prices for new products. Drug companies would, for example, have to report what they spent on research and development of such drugs, as well as the costs of manufacturing, marketing and advertising them.

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