The Montana Standard has experienced a flood of response from people who read Pulitzer-winning public health journalist Andrew Schneider’s shocking story on the price of insulin.
The drug is a literal lifesaver for about 100,000 diabetics in Montana and 29.1 million across the country. Completely apart from realities of supply and demand – and unlike the situations in Canada, Europe and elsewhere around the globe – the price of insulin in the United States has skyrocketed.
“The manipulation of insulin cost is a medical crisis in Montana and everywhere else in this country,” said Dr. Justen Rudolph at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings.
At St. James Healthcare here in Butte, registered nurse Ida Reighard has worked for 17 years with diabetes patients. Now, she says, “I see people daily who cannot afford their … insulin, and their health is suffering. I feel greed is behind this huge problem.”
We do too.
We cannot let insurance companies arbitrarily raise deductibles and reduce copays – and allow pharmaceutical industry middlemen to raise prices with impunity.
The Affordable Care Act forces insurance companies to cover patients with preexisting conditions like diabetes, which is a step in the right direction. But the fact that we’ve built a healthcare infrastructure that allows outrages like the insulin price spike indicates the system is still badly broken.
As Sen. Jon Tester pointed out in a visit to The Montana Standard’s editorial board last week, the GOP’s constant Obamacare “repeal it” refrain is unrealistic – and the old system was also broken.
The disclosures about insulin and Epi-Pen in recent days could not make it clearer that profiteering in healthcare remains out of control.
Congress needs to work together to implement a fix, and it must include controls on the kind of greedy behavior that has victimized nearly 10 percent of the population that depends on insulin.
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