Healthcare

Warnock presses Schumer to hold vote on bill to lower insulin costs

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) speaks to a reporter as he leaves the Senate Chamber following a procedural vote regarding a nomination on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
Greg Nash
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) speaks to a reporter as he leaves the Senate Chamber following a procedural vote regarding a nomination on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) is pressuring Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to hold a vote on legislation to lower the cost of insulin.  

Warnock faces a tough reelection race this year and has made lowering the cost of insulin a central part of his message.  

The timeline on the legislation has slipped, though.  

“I am deeply disappointed the Senate was not able to vote on this critical legislation before Memorial Day,” Warnock wrote in a letter to Schumer dated Monday.  

“The time is now to finally act on this critical issue, and we can’t afford to wait any longer,” he wrote.  

Warnock has a bill to cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month. But the main effort on insulin in the Senate is a measure from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine.) that would include a $35 cap on patient costs while also including other measures aimed at reducing the overall price of the drug. 

Schumer gave his support to the talks between Shaheen and Collins in March and said then that he planned to hold a vote “as soon as possible after Easter recess,” but that timeline has now come and gone.  

Shaheen and Collins have unveiled an outline of their bill but have not yet formally introduced it.  

Collins said Tuesday that she and Shaheen are “close” to introducing their bill.

“We have been waiting for the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] estimate,” she said. “We are in the midst of talking to CBO about the estimate but we are close.” 

Even once the measure is introduced, it faces a steep path to passage given that it would need 10 Republicans to get to the required 60 votes.  

Only 12 House Republicans voted for the House version of insulin legislation in March, with many calling it “price controls,” though Shaheen and Collins are trying to make their version more bipartisan.  

Asked if she had other Republicans she thinks will support the bill, Collins said “I do,” but declined to elaborate.  

The push from Warnock adds a political complication, given that the opposing party is always reluctant to give wins to lawmakers facing competitive reelection races.  

Tags Charles Schumer Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Georgia insulin Jeanne Shaheen Raphael Warnock Raphael Warnock

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