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Rep. Waters Offers Amendment to Healthcare Legislation to Protect Medicare Patients with Diabetes

June 26, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee and a member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, offered an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425) to protect Medicare patients with diabetes. Congresswoman Waters’ amendment would enable seniors who are enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to obtain insulin to manage their diabetes without copayments or deductibles between now and the end of the COVID-19 emergency and obtain a 90-day supply of insulin by mail.

“The price of insulin has skyrocketed in recent years, leaving seniors on fixed incomes in an especially precarious position if they cannot afford their medication,” said Congresswoman Waters.  “My amendment would ensure that seniors are able to afford a sufficient supply of insulin to manage their diabetes effectively without leaving the safety of their homes.”

Congresswoman Waters’ amendment would have added the text of her bill, the Affordable Insulin for the COVID-19 Emergency Act (H.R. 7062), to H.R. 1425.  H.R. 7062 is cosponsored by 36 of the Congresswoman’s colleagues and endorsed by the American Diabetes Association. The amendment was submitted to the Rules Committee prior to its June 24 consideration of H.R. 1425, after which the Rules Committee voted to send H.R. 1425 to the House floor without making any amendments in order. 

“I am disappointed that the Rules Committee was not able to accommodate my amendment, but I will continue to look for opportunities to pass legislation to protect seniors from rising insulin prices,” said Congresswoman  Waters.  “I will always keep fighting to make insulin affordable for Americans who are living with diabetes.”

Insulin is critical for the treatment of diabetes, but it is becoming increasingly expensive.  According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes, and about 7 million of them depend on insulin to manage their condition.[1]  Between 2002-2013, the average price of insulin nearly tripled, creating financial hardships for people who depend on it to survive.[2]  Meanwhile, in much of Europe, insulin prices are about one sixth of what they are here in the United States.[3]

“The Affordable Insulin for the COVID-19 Emergency Act marks a key step in protecting Americans living with diabetes at this unusually difficult time for the diabetes community,”said Tracey Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “COVID-19 disproportionately impacts those with diabetes and other chronic conditions, many of whom are seniors on a fixed income who are struggling to weather this severe strain on their finances. No one who needs medication to live should be forced to go without during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis. This legislation is vital to protecting the diabetes community and helping them manage their diabetes during the pandemic.”

Last year, Congresswoman Waters introduced the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act (H.R. 4550) to address the disproportionate impact of diabetes among African Americans, Latinos, and other minority communities. H.R. 4550 has 60 congressional cosponsors and is awaiting consideration in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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