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This new Senate bill could cap insulin costs at $35

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds up a vial of insulin at Joslin Diabetes Center
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds up a vial of insulin, which would only cost $35 under a bill he promised to bring to the Senate floor in March

A hard cap on out-of-pocket cost for insulin – $35 maximum – is the centerpiece of the Affordable Insulin Now Act. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said the Senate will take up the bill in the next few weeks.

“We want it done, and I intend to put it on the floor this March, and hopefully we can get bipartisan support for it and get it passed,” he said.

That would greatly help people like Syracuse resident and 30-year diabetic Kristen Alluzi.

“Everything counts and it all adds up. This would be huge for everyone, people with insurance and without, $35 is amazing, and I hope it gets approved,” Alluzi said.

Kristen Alluzi, a Syracuse resident and diabetic, talks to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at Joslin Diabetes Center
Kristen Alluzi, a Syracuse resident who has had diabetes since she was nine years old, talks about her experience with struggling to afford insulin.

Alluzi has good insurance and still finds herself being charged as much as $500 per month for the lifesaving drug. She said pharmacists call her regularly before she fills her prescriptions telling her about these high prices, which can change each month. The hard cap would apply to people regardless of health insurance coverage.

Schumer made the announcement at the Joslin Diabetes Center at SUNY Upstate Medical University, where director Ruth Weinstock said the impacts of high insulin prices grew during the pandemic.

“I’ve seen a heartbreaking number of people in this community who cannot afford their insulin,” she said.

Weinstock said losses of income and health insurance led to a rationing of the drug after Covid-19 struck the U.S. Nationwide, one in four people with diabetes were forced to forgo doses to stretch supplies. Insulin prescriptions and equipment can cost thousands of dollars per month under the current system. Schumer said his legislation is the beginning of addressing the broader challenges of healthcare.

“Obviously we’re looking at the whole issue of prescription drugs and that’s one of the things we’re trying to get done,” he said.

Schumer said the smaller-scale insulin bill has Republican support and he expects it will pass when it comes to a vote in the Senate.

WAER's Thomas Cook contributed to this story.