BOERNE – Patients and politicians agree there is an insulin price crisis in our country.
That’s why families were upset to see 43 GOP leaders drop a pricing provision from the Inflation Reduction Act that was just signed into law.
It affects people like 10-year-old Jameson Wardle from Boerne.
Jameson wakes up each morning and eats his cereal, a simple thing that has become complicated since his Type 1 diabetes diagnosis five years ago.
“Many people don’t know the signs. We didn’t know it’s a sweet smelling breath, extreme thirst, he had bruises that wouldn’t heal and he got really skinny,” said Jameson’s mom, Jennifer Wardle.
Jameson piped in, and eloquently explained what he has learned about his body.
“Carbohydrates are the little things inside of food that get turned into energy by insulin. Since I don’t have insulin, I don’t have that much energy. And if I don’t have enough carbs to sustain that 180 to 80 range, I’m either going to go ‘whoo!’ or be very tired and dizzy,” Jameson said.
Jameson and patients like him need insulin to live, but it’s expensive. A single insulin vial can cost $300 or more.
“He only goes through about a vial and a half a month. I was talking with somebody this week and her daughter goes through two to three vials a week,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer advocates for her son through the JDRF foundation, a nonprofit that funds research and supports and lobbies for Type 1 diabetes patients.
“I’m responsible for seven districts here in the San Antonio area talking to the congressman for the last five years,” Jennifer said.
That includes conversations with U.S. representatives Joaquin Castro, Chip Roy, Tony Gonzalez, and Henry Cuellar.
Jennifer was ecstatic to see a $35 per month cap on insulin added to the early version of the Inflation Reduction Act.
She was also disappointed when part of that was pulled, leaving the cap only for diabetes patients on Medicare. That’s the way it was signed into law.
“There are approximately 8 million people in the U.S. who use insulin. Of those 8 million, approximately 3 million of them are covered by Medicare insurance,” said Campbell Hutton, JDRF VP of Regulatory and Health Policy.
That means around five million people with commercial insurance or no insurance will still pay steep prices, something JDRF is continuing to fight.
Hutton said there is a piece of bipartisan legislation called the Insulin Act that has been in the works for years.
“The Inflation Reduction Act took portions of that and that’s now law. The rest of the Insulin Act would find relief for those who have commercial insurance or those who are uninsured. JDRF is urging Congress to take that act up as soon as possible,” Hutton said.
She and Jennifer said the same thing: both Democrats and Republicans know the cost of insulin is causing a crisis. They just need to meet on a way to lower it.
Jameson wants policymakers to hear his story.
“Congress and the government to understand that that feeling of, ‘Oh, I need to pay for insulin’ and they pass the act,” he said.
Jennifer said her family is not on Medicare, but she’s a retired veteran so their insulin costs are cheaper than most.
“But one day he probably won’t be on our insurance, so it’s important for us to figure it out now. And hopefully a cure,” Jennifer said.