Rep. Wild to President Trump: This is a good start. But we need to make insulin affordable for all in this crisis.
LEHIGH VALLEY, PA – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) released a statement following President Trump’s announcement of a plan to cap seniors’ co-payments for insulin beginning next year. In April, Wild led more than 50 of her colleagues in an effort calling for immediate price caps, through the duration of this pandemic, on the actual market price of prescription drugs that treat medical conditions most adversely affected by COVID-19—an approach that would benefit Medicare beneficiaries and those who are uninsured or are covered by other types of health insurance.
“In February, I invited a young woman from my district, Yamelisa Taveras, to be my guest to the State of the Union Address in order to call attention to the astronomical cost of prescription drugs,” Wild said. “Yamelisa has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for her whole life and right now, she and many of her fellow diabetics are struggling to afford insulin at a time when their Diabetes makes them more likely to contract the coronavirus.
“Lifesaving prescription drugs are useless if the people who need them cannot afford them. That's why I led more than 50 of my colleagues to call for caps to the cost of prescription drugs until we have made it through this crisis,” Wild continued. “I am thankful to the President for his effort to cap insulin prices for seniors on Medicare –– this is a good start, but we need to extend the same support to everyone dealing with a condition that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19, including asthmatics and those with heart conditions. Together, we can ensure that Americans with the most need get the support to make it through this pandemic."
In Pennsylvania alone, 1,144,336 people of all ages live with diabetes and depend on insulin to manage it. Over the past decade, the price of insulin has increased 197% and continues to be as much as ten times as expensive as the cost in Canada. Just over 10% of Pennsylvanians, or 1,021,687 individuals, live with asthma and are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. During this crisis, there have been confirmed accounts of prices as high as $1,000 for inhalers used to treat respiratory problems caused by asthma and compounded by COVID-19. Lack of access to inhalers, brought on by increased prices, may result in increased use of nebulizers, which produce mist that may carry the virus and further the spread of COVID-19.
As more data becomes available, cardiac experts now believe that COVID-19 can infect the heart muscle, leading to heart failure or death in as many as 1 in 5 patients. Prior to this pandemic, for 13% of the 121.5 million American adults diagnosed with cardiovascular disease as of 2016 drug cost was a deterrent for taking medications as prescribed.
Full text of Wild’s letter is available here.