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Thousands of CT Medicare recipients are seeing lower costs for insulin

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., surrounded by House Democrats, signs the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 during a bill enrollment ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., surrounded by House Democrats, signs the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 during a bill enrollment ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

One year after the Inflation Reduction Act became law, nearly 11,700 Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut save an average of $560 annually on their insulin, data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows.

“I was paying up to $120 to $150 a bottle,” said Deborah Golas of Griswold, a Medicare beneficiary. “It is ridiculous because I need to sometimes use more than a bottle a month. That adds up. And I can't live without it.”

Golas said the insulin price cap of $35 per month under the act left enough extra cash to update her home heating system.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat who championed the act, said it has had a ripple effect on the industry.

“Some of the pharmaceutical manufacturers — Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Eli Lilly came out with their own willingness to extend the $35 a month cap to non-Medicare customers as well,” he said. “So the government's lead through Medicare reform on insulin actually kind of shamed, you know, some of the manufacturers to really follow suit.”

Beyond insulin, HSS just announced the first list of 10 drugs for Medicare price negotiation.

But pharmaceutical companies, including BoehringerIngelheim whose U.S. headquarters is based in Connecticut, have filed federal lawsuits challenging Medicare price negotiations. 

“I think it is ludicrous and frivolous,” Courtney said. “[Drug price negotiations are] something which has been going on for decades at the Veterans Administration, something which is done as a matter of course in any G7 country. But nonetheless, that's something that the Department of Justice representing Health and Human Services is going to have to deal with.”

HHS data show an estimated 256,000 residents in Connecticut will save an average of $370 on prescription drugs annually when other cost-reducing policies in the Inflation Reduction Act — like a $2,000 cap on annual out-of-pocket pharmacy costs for Medicare beneficiaries — go into effect in 2024 and 2025.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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