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Republicans would block the $35 cap on insulin costs for millions of patients

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Republican lawmakers on Sunday successfully removed a $35 price cap on insulin costs for many patients from an ambitious legislative package that Democrats are moving through Congress this weekend, invoking secretive Senate rules to reject the measure.

The insulin cap is a longtime ambition of Democrats, who want it to apply to patients on Medicare and private insurance. Republicans left the portion that applies to Medicare patients untouched but removed the insulin cap for other patients. Bipartisan talks on a broader insulin pricing bill stalled earlier this year.

Over the weekend, Senate lawmakers ruled that part of the cap Democrats included in the Inflation Reduction Act would not comply with rules that allow them to advance the bill under a process known as reconciliation — a technique that could help block them. The GOP filibuster. That left Republicans free to skip it.

“Republicans have a record in favor of expensive insulin,” said Sen. said Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “After years of hard-fought debate about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once again withered in the face of Big Pharma’s heat.”

Some Republicans supported the price cap in a 57-43 vote for the measure, but not enough Democrats rallied to support it to meet the passage threshold.

According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 1 in 5 insulin users on private medical insurance pay more than $35 a month for the drug.

About 7 million Americans need insulin every day. A Yale University study found that 14 percent of those insulin users were spending more than 40 percent of their income on the drug after food and housing expenses.

Despite an unfavorable ruling from the chamber’s MPs, Democrats decided to keep the full price cap provision in the bill anyway. It was Sen. who opened the door to a challenge on the Senate floor for Republicans. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) led the discussion. Democrats needed 60 votes — the support of their entire caucus plus 10 GOP members — to beat back that challenge. They came up short.

The fight was a policy loss for Democrats, but it was also a political win, as lowering the price of drugs like insulin is popular with voters.

“The only way it won’t pass is if the people on the other side of the aisle decide to block it,” Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), who previously introduced legislation calling for a price cap. .

GOP lawmakers had previously tried to offer their own, more scaled-back version of the insulin price cap, but Democrats rejected it as too narrow.

“Insulin costs are not just out of control,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on the Senate floor, imploring the GOP not to remove the price cap from the bill. “It shouldn’t be hard. Vote to run.”

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