Insulin cost cap bill sponsored by Rep. Angie Craig passed by U.S. House

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that would force group health insurance plans to cap the price of insulin at $35 for a 30-day supply of the drug.

The bill, H.R. 6833, passed the Democrat-controlled chamber 232-193.

"I’ve often said to people, look, this is not lifesaving, it’s life-sustaining," said the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat from Minnesota’s second district.

The price of insulin for patients battling Type 1 diabetes has been skyrocketing. The retail price of a 10ml vial of the heavily prescribed insulin Novolog can run more than $300. Each diabetes patient will require different dosages of insulin, but it’s not uncommon for a patient with an insulin pump to need up to two vials of insulin a month.

"Even if you have insurance today, that cost can be anywhere from $300 to $600 a month, and that’s completely unaffordable," Craig said. "It’s actually one of the most egregious examples of Big Pharma that we have."

In addition to a $35 cap on insulin, the bill would also prevent health insurance policies from requiring a deductible. The $35 cap would apply to Medicare as well.

Angie Craig

Angie Craig

But during the final debate on the House floor, many Republicans balked at the bill, saying it did not attack the fundamental reasons behind rising drug costs. Many argued it was nothing more than price-fixing.

"The proposed capping, price-fixing of a drug that the Democrats are proposing would jeopardize cures, cures for people with Alzheimer’s, cancers, and people with diabetes," argued Rep. Cath McMorris, a Republican from Washington. "This bill does not bring down the cost - it only shifts the cost."

Rep. Craig says Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock is sponsoring a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. She believes that the bipartisan support in the House could help in the overall goal of reducing the high costs of prescription drugs.

"We think that it helps build the momentum for true prescription drug price reforms," Craig said.