Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul voted Sunday against a provision that would cap the cost of insulin in the United States.
The U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a measure to cap the cost of insulin at $35 for patients on Medicare. Democrats also wanted to cap the price for those with private insurance, but 43 Republicans voted against it – including Paul and McConnell.
The bill passed through a budget reconciliation process, which allowed Senate Democrats to weave past the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster. However, the Senate Parliamentarian – the person who interprets Senate rules – found that the private insurance insulin cap violated reconciliation rules. Republicans then voted to strike this specific insulin cap provision from the bill.
Stephanie Penn, the deputy communications director for Sen. McConnell, said the parliamentarian had already ruled that Democrats could not include these price controls in their bill.
“Democrats had the Senate vote on whether to let them break the rules,” Penn said. “Of course, Senator McConnell voted no.”
Penn also said that the price controls would shift the cost into higher health insurance premiums and wouldn’t do anything to lower the price for uninsured people.
“What Sen. McConnell supported is an amendment that would directly help low-income Americans afford EpiPens and insulin regardless of their insurance status,” Penn said. “That’s what will help people, and that’s what Senator McConnell supports.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show Monday night that he would bring the vote back up this fall.
“They blocked a $35 price for insulin for non-Medicare people,” Schumer said on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. “We’re going to come back and make them vote on that again.”
Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of the measure.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Tweeted that the Republicans voting against the measure was shameful.
“Republicans just voted AGAINST our $35/month insulin cap for patients on private insurance, forcing countless patients to continue rationing their insulin—putting their lives at risk,” Murray Tweeted.
But Paul said that price controls lead to shortages.
“When President Carter placed caps on oil prices in the late 1970s, hours-long lines formed at gas stations,” Paul said. “In the Soviet Union, price controls led to empty shelves in grocery stores. One need look no further than today’s Venezuela to see the devastation of price controls. The best way to reduce the price of insulin is to promote competition.”