Republican senators voted Sunday against a cap on the price of insulin in the private market, removing it from the Democrats’ economic and climate package.
Democrats had tried to preserve the provision to cap insulin costs at $35 for private insurers, but that vote failed 57-43, with seven Republicans voting with them to keep the insulin cost cap at the bill, three less than what was needed.
The move was expected after a decision by the Senate parliamentarian, who previously determined that the insulin provision did not meet the chamber’s strict budget rules. Democrats must meet those rules to advance the legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, without a Republican vote.
The legislation, however, still includes a $35 copayment cap on the price of insulin for people 65 and older on Medicare.
After the vote, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., accused Republicans of giving in to pressure from the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of citizens.
“Republicans have just come out in favor of expensive insulin,” Wyden said in a statement. “After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have for once resisted wilting in the heat of Big Pharma.”
“Fortunately, the $35 insulin copayment cap for Medicare insulin remains in the bill, so seniors will get relief from high insulin costs. I will continue to work to bring lower insulin costs to all Americans,” he added.
Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Susan Collins of Maine; Josh Hawley of Missouri; Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan joined Democrats in voting to keep the insulin cap for private insurers on Sunday.
Senators have been working through the weekend on amendment votes after the chamber advanced the bill on Saturday in a 51-50 procedural vote, with all Republicans opposing the motion to proceed with the bill. law and Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.
Senate Democrats aim to pass the legislation Sunday, bringing long-stalled elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda, such as major spending to fight climate change and expanding health care coverage, a step closer to close to reality The package will then head to the House, which is currently scheduled to vote on it on Friday.
Julia Jester, Ali Vitali, Julie Tsirkin and Frank Thorp V contributed.