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AARP Iowa Joins Calls for Insulin Price Caps

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Friday, February 24, 2023   

AARP Iowa is calling on the Legislature to cap insulin prices for people on state-regulated health-insurance plans that currently have no limits on the drug.

Nearly a quarter-million Iowans have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and depend on daily doses of insulin. The Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act capped insulin costs at $35 per month for people on Medicare, but only for those who buy "Part D" plans that help cover drug costs. AARP Iowa State Director Brad Anderson said that leaves 245,000 Iowans who need insulin vulnerable to huge price spikes.

"So, this means Iowans on these plans could continue paying hundreds of dollars per month for insulin - which, as we all know, was a drug invented 100 years ago," he said. "So AARP would like to see a state cap on insulin costs, somewhere between $35 and $100 per month."

Anderson said similar legislation has had bipartisan support in the past, but hasn't made it through to become law.

"Now is the time to get it to the finish line," he said, but no bill has been filed yet this session.

AARP said insulin costs have risen 600% over the past 20 years.

Dr. Anuj Bhargava, founder and medical director of Iowa Diabetes, said insulin was originally sold for $1 by the people who invented it. He's encouraged by the insulin treatments available, but said he is disheartened by the current battles over price. Bhargava said one patient in his practice left her diabetes untreated for a year because she couldn't afford the insulin.

"She was very honest and she said, 'You know, I can afford my insulin - or my food, grocery and shelter - or I can come and see you.' When people have these struggles, they should not need to make these choices," he said. "Insulin is an essential medication."

According to AARP research, more than 14% of people in the United States who use insulin say it consumes at least 40% of their available income.

Disclosure: AARP Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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