Insulin vials. Photo: Alan Levine

Rep. Markwayne Mullin: No one should be forced to ration diabetes care

Priced Out of a Life-Saving Drug

More than 355,000 adults in Oklahoma are currently living with diabetes. For each of those people, access to affordable insulin is not just an ongoing concern, but a matter of life and death.

Diabetes is the most expensive chronic disease in the United States. From 2002 to 2013, the list price of insulin nearly tripled, causing patient out-of-pocket expenses to double. Instead of spending an average of $7.80 per day for an average amount of insulin, individuals can now expect to pay roughly $15 a day for insulin.

With more Oklahomans enrolling in high deductible health plans, more individuals are exposed to higher out-of-pocket costs for insulin. In 2018 alone, 39 percent of insulin users reported paying more for insulin than they did in 2017.

In his State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted the need for price transparency between drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). On April 2 and April 10, my subcommittee, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, held two bipartisan hearings to investigate the rising cost of insulin and its impact on patients.

While manufacturers claim the problems lie with the PMBs who pressure them to offer more rebates which come with higher list prices, PMBs are quick to point out that manufactures alone control the list price of insulin. Instead of lowering list prices, manufactures have created patient assistance programs to provide insulin for those who otherwise can’t afford it. However, qualifying for such programs can be difficult, and even those who do qualify are uncertain of how long they will be able to participate.

While some in the Democrat House majority support reducing patient choice by creating government takeover programs like Medicare For All, I’m working to find common ground when it comes to lowering drug prices. Last week with my support, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed six bipartisan bills aimed at creating transparency, bolstering competition, and lowering drug prices.

I look forward to supporting these bills shortly on the House floor. I urge my Senate colleagues to quickly pass these bills so that families can continue to receive their life saving medication at an affordable price.

No man, woman, or child should ever be forced to ration or dilute their insulin because they can’t afford their next month’s supply. We must continue to work with President Trump in calling for transparency in drug pricing and investigating why insulin prices have skyrocketed.

I will keep fighting to ensure that patients aren’t priced out of a life-saving drug.

Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was first elected to serve the people of Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District in November 2012. He is currently serving his fourth term in office. Mullin and his wife Christie have five children: Jim, Andrew, Larra, Ivy, and Lynette. The Mullin family currently resides in Westville, Oklahoma on the same family farm where Markwayne was raised.

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