On Thursday, President Joe Biden gave a speech in which he lamented the fact that “right here in America, we pay the highest prescription drug costs of any developed nation in the world.”
The first example he gave was a diabetic named Gail — and how much she was being charged for insulin.
What he didn’t tell America was that, right after taking office, he delayed an executive order signed by former President Donald Trump which cut the price of both insulin and EpiPens.
No, on Thursday, it was all about Gail.
“Last week in the Oval Office, I hosted a small business owner named Gail from Denver,” Biden said at the top of the speech.
“She’s 60 years old.”
“When she was 11, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For nearly 50 years, she’s had to take insulin to stay alive.
“But you know what she told me? She said she doesn’t worry about becoming blind or her blood sugar dropping dangerously low — the natural worries of anyone with Type 1 diabetes. She worries about being able to pay for her prescription drugs.”
When she was in the Oval Office, Biden said, Gail “pulled out a vial of insulin from her bag. In 2001, she said, that single vial costs $32 a bottle. Today, that exact same bottle with the same exact formula, no changes, costs $280 per bottle.”
Because of the price of insulin, even though “Gail and her husband work hard” and “spend wisely,” retirement may be out of the question for them. On top of that, they’re driving the same car they’ve had for 17 years– and can’t afford to repair or replace it.
“Gail is not alone. It’s estimated that more than 34 million Americans, 10 percent of the population of the United States, have diabetes, including more than 1.5 million of those who have Type 1 diabetes,” Biden said.
He even went so far as to post a Twitter video with Gail describing her plight:
For Gail — and countless others across the country — the cost of insulin is outrageous. I sat down to talk with her about how my Build Back Better Agenda will lower prescription costs and ensure every American has access to the lifesaving drugs they need. pic.twitter.com/zFVSaGZohM
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 12, 2021
Unmentioned, however, was this part of the story: Biden paused a Trump-era program, which delivered cheaper insulin and epinephrine to low-income patients.
Biden reversed Trump's Executive Order to reduce pricing for insulin and epinephrine.
Democrats want higher insulin prices? pic.twitter.com/w85pkIAchG
— Mary Vought (@MaryVought) January 22, 2021
Biden just gave a whole speech about lowering the cost of insulin.
Did Joe forget he rescinded Trump’s executive order to do just that only 6 months ago? pic.twitter.com/pVSckUokyy
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 12, 2021
Bloomberg Law reported that the day after Joe Biden took office, his Department of Health and Human Services “froze the former Trump administration’s December drug policy that requires community health centers to pass on all their insulin and epinephrine discount savings to patients.”
“This freeze is part of the Biden administration’s large-scale effort announced this week that will scrutinize the Trump administration’s health policies. If the previous administration’s policies raise ‘fact, law, or policy’ concerns, the Biden HHS will delay them and consult with the Office of Management and Budget about other actions.”
As The Daily Wire noted in January, the former president signed a series of executive orders in July 2020 which directed HHS to “[e]nd a shadowy system of kickbacks by middlemen that lurks behind the high out-of-pocket costs many Americans face at the pharmacy counter,” according to a department news release.
At a signing ceremony, Trump said the orders “will completely restructure the prescription drug market, in terms of pricing and everything else, to make these medications affordable and accessible for all Americans.
“The first order will require federal community health centers to pass the giant discounts they receive from drug companies on insulin and EpiPens directly to their patients. You know, insulin became so expensive, people weren’t able to use it. They desperately needed it,” Trump explained.
“EpiPens, likewise — you’ve been reading horrible stories about EpiPens over the last six, seven years. Horrible, horrible, horrible increases, where they went from almost nothing to massive amounts of money. We’re changing that right now.”
“Under this order, the price of insulin for affected patients will come down to just pennies a day — pennies a day from numbers that you weren’t even able to think about. It’s a massive cost savings,” he added.
However, according to a report from Bloomberg Government, Biden’s HHS was on a “different page” when it came to drug prices.
“Biden enters the presidency with at least a dozen lawsuits waiting over Trump-era moves to lower drug prices, an issue the new administration will likely tackle in its own way,” the outlet reported in January.
“The Department of Health and Human Services under Biden inherits challenges to rules that tie drug reimbursement to cheaper foreign drug prices and allow medication imports from Canada. It also faces complaints over Trump’s push for drugmakers to ship discounted drugs bought by low-income health centers to commercial contract pharmacies.”
Biden’s administration threw out the old rules because it was on a “different page” and is now scrambling to find its own way to solve a problem the former president was already on the way to solving.
Overall, we lost months in the fight against sky-high drug prices.