Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators voted against a measure on Sunday that would have advanced a cap on the price of insulin for many Americans.
Neither GOP senator's office responded to questions seeking an explanation for their vote when contacted by The Tennessean.
U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty both voted against a measure to waive parliamentary rules and allow the Senate to limit the price of insulin for those on private insurance to $35.
Seven of their Republican colleagues crossed party lines and joined all 50 Democrats to set aside Senate rules and vote on the insulin cap, three short of the 60 needed to move forward.
Insulin — which is used by many people with diabetes to manage their blood sugar — is dramatically more expensive in the U.S. than in many other countries. The average manufacturer price for a standard unit of insulin in 2018 was 10 times the average price of insulin across 32 foreign countries, according to a 2020 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Approximately 35 percent of those on insulin were insured through private insurance, according to a Yale University study published last month. That study also found that 14 percent of insulin users spend at least 40 percent of their post-food and housing income on insulin.
Spokespeople for both Blackburn and Hagerty did not respond to multiple emails asking why senators voted against setting aside the rules to vote on the amendment. Tennessee has the sixth-highest rate of death from diabetes among all 50 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other Republicans, however, said Democrats were trying to avoid Senate parliamentary rules.
“There’s a lot of ways they can get that vote, but doing it this way, was the wrong way to do it,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-South Dakota, told reporters on Sunday.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted that the vote was about “Dems ignoring budget rules.”
Parliamentarian nixed Dems price cap bc it didn't follow budget rule Vote on the cap was not abt insulin It was abt Dems ignoring budget rules Dear colleagues join me in supporting the Collins-Shaheen bill to cap insulin at $35 & enact PBM reforms in bipartisan way
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) August 8, 2022
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, vowed to bring the issue to a vote again.
A similar cap on insulin for Medicare recipients was included in the Senate’s Inflation Reduction Act, which passed a divided Senate on Sunday after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.
The larger bill was passed with a simple majority while the private market insulin cap was not because Senate rules require a 60-vote threshold for legislation that set prices in the commercial market.
Melissa Brown contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Blackburn, Hagerty among senators blocking move to cap insulin prices