Health care CEOs thank Trump administration for capping senior insulin costs to $35 a month

Trump says capping insulin costs will save Americans impacted by diabetes an average minimum of $446 per year

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Humana CEO Bruce Broussard and Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks announced their support Tuesday for President Trump's decision to lower seniors' insulin costs to $35 a month beginning next year as part of an agreement with insulin manufacturers and major insurance companies.

"I want to thank the administration for continuing to pick on large issues like this and bringing in the private enterprise to assist in that," Broussard said.

Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana Inc., speaks at an event on protecting seniors with diabetes in the Rose Garden White House, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Ricks added that the partnership between the federal government and private enterprise is "the kind of collaboration that solves real problems for people with serious issues like diabetes."

David Ricks, chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, speaks at an event on protecting seniors with diabetes in the Rose Garden White House, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"This is a big day for seniors," President Trump said. "We brought all of the parties to the table — insurers, manufacturers, and other key players — and reached an agreement to deliver insulin at stable and drastically lower out-of-pocket cost for our seniors."

One out of three people with Medicare has diabetes, and more than 3 million use insulin to keep their blood sugar within normal ranges and stave off complications that can include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. People with diabetes also do worse with COVID-19.

Medicare estimates that about six in 10 beneficiaries are already in prescription drug plans that will offer the new insulin benefit. Those whose plans don’t offer the new option next year can switch during open enrollment season, which starts Oct. 15. Medicare’s online plan finder will include a filter to help beneficiaries find plans that cap insulin copays.

The insulin benefit will be available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and participation by insurers and Medicare recipients is voluntary.


Trump said capping insulin costs will save impacted Americans an average minimum of $446 per year. On average, people enrolled in the federal health care program pay roughly $675 per year.

"Over the past 10 years, these seniors have seen their out-of-pocket costs for this lifesaving treatment almost double," Trump said. "We slashed Obamacare's crippling requirements and opened up competition like they've never seen before."

The cost of insulin is one the biggest worries for consumers concerned about high prices for brand-name drugs. The Healthcare Cost Institute reports that the average price of insulin rose from about $234 a month in 2012 to $450 a month in 2016. Nearly 525,000 people have signed a petition with the American Diabetes Association demanding affordable insulin.

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CVS is among the organizations who have tried to help cut insulin costs for consumers. In January, it began offering a zero-copayment program for insulin.


According to the Congressional Research Service, three companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — manufacture most insulin products. There are no generics for insulin, despite the drug being discovered nearly 100 years ago.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which monitors health care trends, Medicare Part D spending on insulin products from the three main manufacturers was $5.5 billion for Novo Nordisk, $4.8 billion for Sanofi and $3 billion for Eli Lilly in 2017. Total Medicare Part D spending on insulin increased by 840 percent between 2007 and 2017, from $1.4 billion to $13.3 billion.

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NVO NOVO NORDISK A/S 72.72 +0.53 +0.73%
SNY SANOFI 51.82 +0.52 +1.01%

Trump’s announcement comes on the heels of both the House and the Senate holding hearings in the last year on the rising costs of prescription drug costs with a focus on insulin prices.

Last January, Sen Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said at his hearing that “I have heard stories about people reducing their lifesaving medicines, like insulin, to save money. This is unacceptable and I intend to specifically get to the bottom of the insulin price problem.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.