Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on Monday that the Senate will get a second chance to pass a plan to cap insulin prices at $35 for people with non-Medicare health insurance after Republicans voted to block the provision from being included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
“[Republicans] blocked a $35 price for insulin for non-Medicare people,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, after noting that Republicans are “intransigent.”
“We’re going to come back and make them vote on that again,” he went on. “When they get taken over by the extremes — whether on issues of democracy or issues of making people’s lives better and reducing their costs — they’re going to lose out.”
Schumer added that he thinks Republicans’ extremism will “backfire on them” in the midterm elections this fall.
Earlier this week, Senate Republicans voted against the inclusion of the insulin cap plan in the IRA. The provision, which needed 60 votes to pass due to arcane Senate rules, failed 57 to 43, with only seven GOP members voting in favor of the measure.
Republicans faced heavy criticism for the vote, including from Democrats, who called the vote “shameful.” In an attempt to stave off scrutiny, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) even attempted to mislead his followers on Twitter, implying that he voted for the provision’s inclusion even though he didn’t.
The plan, a version of which the House passed earlier this year, would have helped make insulin more affordable for the millions of Americans who rely on the drug to survive. It would combat lightly-regulated sky-high insulin prices that pharmaceutical and insurance companies impose on people with diabetes, many of whom report struggling to afford the medication. Proposals to cap the price of insulin are popular with the public; polls have found that a vast majority of voters support the plan, with over 85 percent of Democrats and Republicans saying they favor the $35 cap.
The explosion of criticism Republicans have faced for voting against the plan may help the provision pass if Schumer does indeed bring it to a vote again, as Republicans reneged in a similar situation last month.
In July, Senate Republicans blocked the passage of a bill known as the PACT Act, which aimed to provide health care coverage to veterans who had been exposed to toxic chemical burn pits during their time in service. Veterans groups and advocates for the bill said that the legislation was a breakthrough and could help save thousands of veterans who suffer from rare and deadly illnesses due to burn pit exposure.
Only five Republicans voted “yes,” leaving the bill short of the votes needed to overcome the 60-vote filibuster. Party members cited spurious budgetary reasons to justify the vote, which took place just an hour after Democrats announced the IRA. But after Republicans were hit with a wave of criticism, including from prominent figures like talk show host Jon Stewart, the party ultimately reneged: The bill passed last week, unchanged, in an 86 to 11 vote.
A similar situation may play out with the insulin cap. Though Republicans have thus far largely ignored polls that find support for a large swath of proposals they’ve shot down in the past few years, the deluge of bad press could be enough for them to change their minds. Early analyses of polls conducted on this year’s midterm elections have found that Republicans are losing support among voters, and some prognosticators are saying that the election may not be the slam dunk for the GOP that past trends have suggested it will be.
While the passage of the insulin cap would be ideal for Democrats and the large portion of diabetes patients who pay over $35 for insulin a month, the vote could also serve to illustrate the depravity of the Republican party if GOP senators vote against the proposal again. Schumer confirmed on NPR on Monday that he’s planning to bring the provision to a vote before the midterms this fall, saying, “there’s going to be huge heat on Republicans.”
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