ICYMI: Senators Reverend Warnock, Kennedy Release New Bipartisan Report on Insulin Deserts, Reaffirm Need for $35 Insulin Cap for Everyone

The Senator, joined by Senator Kennedy, released a new white paper regarding the need to lower high insulin costs on World Diabetes Day, November 14

The new report analyzes county-level data across the country to examine counties with both high rates of uninsured people and high rates of diabetes – which the Senators have termed “Insulin Deserts”

Earlier this year, Senators Reverend Warnock and Kennedy introduced bipartisan legislation to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for everyone who needs it, building on Senator Warnock’s success in capping insulin costs for seniors on Medicare

Bipartisan momentum for the legislation is growing in the Senate, signaling a wide-reaching and urgent call from Americans demanding Congress take action on affordable insulin 

Senator Reverend Warnock: “For the first time, this new analysis paints a clear picture of who is needlessly suffering, and points to the urgency of passing federal legislation that ensures patients with and without insurance have access to affordable insulin” 

Washington, D.C. — This week, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) released a new bipartisan report on the need for Congress to pass federal legislation to lower high insulin costs for everyone. The white paper was co-authored by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), who is also co-leading the universal $35 insulin cost cap effort with Senator Warnock, and analyzes county-level data across the country to examine counties with both high rates of uninsured people and high rates of diabetes – which the Senators have termed “Insulin Deserts.” Senator Kennedy also joined Senator Warnock on the Senate floor to speak about the report and the importance of passing federal insulin co-pay cap legislation that benefits the insured and the uninsured. 

The report finds that 813 counties—just over a quarter of the nation’s counties—are Insulin Deserts, and most of these counties are concentrated in the South and especially the southeast, exacerbating poor health outcomes across the region. This white paper is the first published report that analyzes both counties with high rates of uninsured people and high diabetes prevalence, as well as why Americans in these communities remain vulnerable despite state and federal progress on reducing the cost of insulin.

Read the full report HERE

See the below coverage of Senator Reverend Warnock’s new bipartisan report on insulin deserts:

Above: Senator Reverend Warnock joins MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss his new bipartisan report on Insulin Deserts

Senator Warnock on MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
November 15, 2023

  • “I can tell you I’ve seen up close the problem of diabetes. First of all, as a pastor, I can’t tell you how many bedsides I’ve stood next to over the decades. I’ve seen the tragic complications that come with unmanaged diabetes: the amputations, dialysis, when the kidneys fail, blindness.”
  • “Here’s the thing. Insulin was invented 100 years ago, the patent was sold for $1. But what we’ve seen in recent years is Big Pharma taking advantage of the situation. When you need your insulin, you need insulin.”
  • “I’m proud that earlier this year, my Republican partner, John Kennedy, and I have introduced the latest version of this bill, which will cap the costs of insulin for folks who have insurance and those who do not.”
  • “We unveiled this report, which speaks about what we call ‘Insulin Deserts’. These are places throughout our country, but especially in the South and southeast, where you see the tragic convergence of high rates of diabetes and high rates of uninsured people. And the bill we’ve introduced addresses this problem.” 

Senator Warnock on CNN’s NewsNight:
November 14, 2023

  • “Today on World Diabetes Day, I released a report with my partner in this effort, John Kennedy of Louisiana, that focuses on what we’re calling Insulin Deserts.”
  • “We’ve got to pass this bipartisan legislation that John Kennedy and I have introduced that will cap the cost of insulin for everybody who needs it.”
  • “In recent days, among the cosponsors for this bill, are Josh Hawley, J.D. Vance, [Mike] Braun, we’ve got both senators from Alabama, Tuberville and Britt. There is a bipartisan path to getting this done, because all of us, especially in the South, are feeling the impact of unmanaged diabetes.”

USA Today: More than 800 U.S. counties are ‘insulin deserts.’ How these senators want to help Americans with diabetes

November 14, 2023

  • Lacy McGee, 30, spent her last year of graduate school scouring Facebook groups and meeting strangers in Chick-fil-A and grocery store parking lots to obtain enough insulin to get through another week.
  • McGee, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 17 years old, is one of more than 37 million Americans who live with the disease.
  • And like many Americans across the United States, McGee has spent years of her life figuring out how to afford the drug and rationing supplies of the medication she needs to survive.
  • “There’s not a second of the day that I don’t think about diabetes and for all of that, affording my illness has always been harder than actually living with my illness,” the Georgia native told USA TODAY.
  • Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said stories like McGee’s are why he is pursuing legislation to address health care costs for people across the country.
  • “One fourth of diabetics report having to ration their insulin, using the insulin leftover from people they know whose loved ones are dead,” Warnock told USA TODAY. “Come on. This is the United States of America. This should not be.”
  • “Healthcare is a human right, and I have long been focused on this issue,” Warnock told USA TODAY.
  • It currently costs the U.S. $413 billion in annual expenses for diabetes care. “If we don’t get this bill across the finish line, these are the folks we’re going to leave behind and unnecessarily so,” Warnock said. “It will cost us more not to do this by far than it does to do it.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Lowering insulin costs for everyone aim of latest proposal from Warnock

November 14, 2023 

  • Unaffordable insulin costs continue to burden Georgians despite efforts to increase access to the vital diabetes treatment, but U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is looking to provide relief.
  • Warnock, along with Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) partnered on a report released on Tuesday — World Diabetes Day — urging Congress to pass the Affordable Insulin Now Act of 2023, which would extend a $35 insulin copay cap to those with private insurance [and without insurance].
  • In the report, “Insulin Deserts: The Urgency of Lowering the Cost of Insulin for Everyone,” 813 U.S counties concentrated in the South were classified as “insulin deserts.”
  • Insulin deserts were defined as counties that have a high rates of uninsured individuals and diabetes. In these areas, people were more likely to be lower-income, less likely to have college degrees and internet access, and more likely to be people of color.
  • Along with a $35 cap for those with private insurance, Warnock’s bill, which has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, would create a program for uninsured patients to receive insulin for no more than $35 a month. Uninsured patients now pay an average of $996 annually for insulin, compared to $456 spent by patients with private insurance and $449 spent by Medicare patients.
  • Diabetes costs Americans over $410 billion each year. The cost of prescription insulin is far higher in the U.S. than in other countries, which has led some patients to ration their supply. Skipping or skimping on doses is more common in underserved communities and can result in serious health effects. According to a 2022 report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, over 1 million Americans are estimated to have rationed their prescribed insulin in the last year.
  • “Insulin should not be expensive. It should not be unaffordable,” Warnock said. Speaking on the pharmaceutical firms that have voluntarily reduced prices on insulin, Warnock added, “I don’t want to see us look up a few years from now and corporations play bait and switch.”

The Atlanta Voice: Senators Warnock and Kennedy release bipartisan report on insulin deserts in the US

November 14, 2023 

  • Tuesday was World Diabetes Day and there was a moment of bipartisanship in the United States Senate. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana a bipartisan report on insulin deserts. These are areas with high rates of uninsured people, and high rates of diabetes are more than 800 Insulin deserts.
  • According to the legislation, it would accomplish the following:
    • Require private group or individual plans to cover one of each insulin dosage form (i.e. vial, pen) and insulin type (i.e. rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting or long-acting) for no more than $35 per month.
    • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a program to reimburse qualifying entities for covering any costs that exceed $35 for providing a 30-day supply of insulin to uninsured patients.
    • Be fully paid for by an offset, so it will not add to the deficit.
  • “The cost of insulin is rising for too many Louisianians who rely on it just to survive. I’m grateful to work with Sen. Warnock to issue this bipartisan report, which details the need for Congress to pass our Affordable Insulin Now Act,” said Kennedy. By capping prices at $35 for every patient, we can help lower future health care costs associated with complications that arise from untreated diabetes.”

Capitol Beat News: Warnock looking to extend insulin cost cap to all diabetes patients

  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., was a leader in getting a provision capping the cost of insulin for Medicare enrollees at $35 a month into the Inflation Reduction Act Congress passed last year. Now, Warnock is working with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on federal legislation that would extend the insulin cap to the rest of the population.
  • “Despite progress over the last few years to lower out-of-pocket costs of insulin, unaffordable insulin remains pervasive across the country,” the study states. “This report confirms the need for legislation to make insulin affordable for both privately insured and uninsured Americans.”
  • “This alarming report makes clear who will be left behind if Congress fails to pass my $35 insulin cost cap, including uninsured Georgians who live in the 105 counties considered insulin deserts,” Warnock said. “My bipartisan legislation with Senator Kennedy would ensure that uninsured folks, especially folks in insulin deserts, are able to afford their insulin.”

Atlanta Daily World: Sen. Raphael Warnock Identifies Insulin Deserts, Proposes Cap on Costs

  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, on World Diabetes Day, Tuesday, Nov. 14 unveiled a plan to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for Americans with diabetes. Warnock working with other senate democrats was successful in winning the battle to enact the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress in 2022 successfully capping the cost of insulin for Medicare enrollees.
  • Warnock and Kennedy say the inability of residents in many of these areas to access costly medications, including insulin is a scourge on the overall health of the nation and contributes to poor health outcomes in these affected populations, contributing to the region’s widespread poor health outcomes.
  • Warnock pointed out in a study undertaken by his office, Insulin Deserts, the Urgency of Lowering the Cost of Insulin for everyone, that in the early 1920s, researchers discovered that injecting insulin into a diabetic 14-year-old would lower blood glucose levels and save the child’s life. Knowing the life-saving capabilities of this newly discovered drug, the researchers sold the patent to the University of Toronto for only $1.

Read the full report HERE