Los AngelesCongresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, reintroduced H.R. 2179, the Affordable Insulin for the COVID-19 Emergency Act, and H.R. 2178, the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act. Congresswoman Waters previously introduced both bills in the 116th Congress.

“Throughout the pandemic, those with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes, have been at increased risk of contracting the virus and of dying from it,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “COVID-19 has highlighted the urgent need to ensure that pre-existing conditions are effectively managed in a way that allows for all people to maintain their health. Even before the pandemic, though, diabetes was among the leading causes of death in the United States, and it is more prevalent among seniors and people of color – two groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”

Twenty-seven percent of Americans age 65 and older suffer from diabetes. Racial minorities are also disproportionately impacted. Among adults age 18 and older, 7.4 percent of white Americans, 12.1 percent of black Americans, 12.7 percent of Hispanic Americans, 8 percent of Asian Americans, and 15.1 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives have been diagnosed with diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people with diabetes have a significantly higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than those who do not have diabetes.

“Both of my bills will play a critical role in combatting diabetes in the United States by helping vulnerable seniors and people of color manage their diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” added Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “By ensuring that insulin, which is critical for the treatment of diabetes and known for being notoriously expensive, is accessible and affordable, and by providing grants to community organizations for diabetes management, my bills are absolutely critical and will play a vital role in protecting public health during this trying time.”

The Affordable Insulin for the COVID-19 Emergency Act will require that:

  • Seniors who are enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans be able to obtain insulin without copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other cost sharing for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Seniors be able to purchase a 90-day supply of insulin and have it shipped by mail directly to their homes.

The Minority Diabetes Initiative Act will provide:

  • Grants to community-based organizations and non-profit health care providers for diabetes prevention, care, and treatment programs in minority communities. 
    • The grants will support a variety of diabetes-related health services, including public education on diabetes prevention and control, routine health care for diabetic patients, eye care, foot care, and treatment for kidney disease and other complications of diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association has provided the following statement in support of both H.R. 2179 and H.R. 2178:

“The Affordable Insulin for the COVID-19 Emergency Act marks important progress toward protecting the diabetes community during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “COVID-19 has taken an outsize toll on those with diabetes and other related chronic conditions, many of whom are seniors whose savings and sources of income have been hit especially hard by the pandemic’s economic repercussions. The assistance in this bill is urgently needed to allow our seniors to maintain access to life-sustaining medications, and to help ensure that no one who needs insulin is forced to go without due to financial difficulty.”

“In addition, although COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the systemic barriers to care that low-income Americans and people of color face, they existed long before the pandemic and will persist for long after without meaningful change. That’s why we’re thrilled to support the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act – a bill that would prioritize diabetes treatment and prevention in the communities facing a heightened risk, putting our health care system on a path toward health equity,” Brown said.

Cosponsors of H.R. 2179, the Affordable Insulin for the COVID-19 Emergency Act, include: Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-NC), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), André Carson (D-IN), Judy Chu (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Joe Morelle (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-GU), Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Thomas Suozzi  (D-NY), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

Cosponsors of H.R. 2178, the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act, include: Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-NC), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), André Carson (D-IN), Judy Chu (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Joe Morelle (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-GU), Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Thomas Suozzi  (D-NY), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) , and Peter Welch (D-VT).