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Jayapal Announces State of the Union Guest

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) announced today that Kevin Wren, a Seattleite dependent on insulin to manage Type I diabetes, will be her guest for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address.

“Delivering lower costs for my constituents and working families across the country is a top priority – and I’m so proud that Democrats and the Biden administration have been able to deliver on lowering prescription drug costs and expanding access to health coverage,” said Jayapal. “I’m glad to welcome Kevin, an activist, organizer, and advocate for lowering insulin costs, as my State of the Union guest this year to both celebrate the work we’ve done and look forward to what we still must achieve to help people reliant on lifesaving medications.” 

“Since I was diagnosed over two decades ago, the price of insulin has exploded,” said Wren. “I am one of the 1 in 4 who have reported rationing insulin in the US. Some who ration die, while we who survive suffer complications that will indelibly shorten our lives. Congressional Democrats, like Rep. Jayapal, fulfilled a longstanding promise to free Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. The Department of Health and Human Services has selected ten drugs in a pilot program and will add more in the coming years. Novolog, one of two types of insulin I take to stay alive, is among the ten drugs that will see lower prices, bringing enormous savings for Medicare recipients and taxpayers.”

Wren is a Seattle native who helps to lead the Washington #Insulin4All campaign, advocating for access to insulin and diabetes supplies and a true price cap on insulin. Thanks to Medicaid he receives his insulin at an affordable cost. Unfortunately, there are many people in states that have not expanded Medicaid, are uninsured, or are on private insurance who cannot afford their insulin. The Inflation Reduction Act allows Medicare to negotiate the price of drugs, including insulin, for the first time and caps the cost of insulin at $35 for people on Medicare. The House-passed Build Back Better Act took further action to lower insulin costs by expanding Medicaid and capping the cost of insulin at $35 for all people on private health insurance. People with diabetes, both Type I and Type II,  account for nearly ten percent of the national population and diabetes is a leading cause of death in the United States. 

Jayapal led an effort during Build Back Better negotiations to cap out-of-pocket costs of insulin at $35 a month for those without insurance who are at the highest risk of rationing, introduced an amendment to the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize the Department of Defense (DoD) to engage in public manufacturing of insulin to meet the needs of the military and TriCare programs, and included multiple actions to lower insulin costs as part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s 2023 Executive Action Agenda.