When Senator Amy Klobuchar officially announced she is running in the 2020 presidential race on February 10, she used her speech to call for lower prescription drug prices, paying special attention to the soaring price of insulin.
In the speech, Klobuchar mentioned fellow Minnesotan, Alec Raeshawn Smith, who died when he couldn’t afford his insulin. His mother, Nicole Smith-Holt, has been sharing her son’s story with the media since his death and was present for Klobuchar’s speech. Smith attempted to ration his insulin (a dangerous practice) in an attempt to make it last until his next paycheck, which was three days away, but it resulted in his death.
Of the tragic incident, Klobuchar said, “This disgrace should never have happened in the United States of America. Not with a simple drug that’s been around for nearly a century. The obstacle of change? The big pharma companies [that] think they own Washington. Well they don’t own me.”
Soaring price of insulin
Over the past 20 years, insulin prices have climbed an astounding 1,123 percent.
Insulin prices tripled between 2002 and 2013, and then doubled again within the following five years. The list price for a single vial of insulin is now $300, and most people with type 1 diabetes use several vials in a single month. Health insurance and drug discounts help bring down the price some, but not all Americans have insurance, which leaves them paying the full price for drugs they can’t live without.
Klobuchar and Medicare for All
While Klobuchar doesn’t support Medicare for All by name, she does support the idea of giving Americans a public Medicare or Medicaid buy-in option. Either Medicare for All or a Medicare/Medicaid buy-in option would drastically reduce the price of prescription drugs and potentially save American lives.
The specific buy-in option bill she has sponsored was written by Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. This bill was also sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, the author of the original Medicare for All Bill.