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Truth Test: 13th congressional district candidates clash on lowering prescription prices and capping insulin costs

Insulin is displayed at Pucci's Pharmacy in Sacramento, Calif., July 8, 2022.

Both congressional candidates in Illinois’ 13th district — Republican Regan Deering and Democrat Nikki Budzinski — say they support lowering prescription prices and capping the cost of insulin.

But they disagree on a new federal law meant to achieve those goals. Deering opposes the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which President Biden signed in August. Budzinski supports it. 

“What the act would allow for is that the government and Medicare (can) specifically…negotiate with drug companies to bring down the cost of prescription drugs,” Kevin Sylwester, Interim Director at The School of Analytics, Finance, and Economics at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, said.

The IRA also caps monthly insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries. In September, Budzinski said Congress should do the same for all U.S. citizens, not just those on Medicare.

In a statement to St. Louis TV station KSDK, Deering said: “I support capping the cost of insulin and other life-saving drugs.” But she added that it would need to be in a “responsible, standalone bill.”

The Inflation Reduction Act is controversial, in part, because it’s the “most aggressive climate investment ever taken by Congress,” per CNBC.

Deering tweeted that Budzinski should “remove” a post, which described her campaign as not in favor of lowering insulin prices.

Recently, Republican senators, including Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Mike Lee (Utah), James Lankford (Okla.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), introduced a bill that would reverse the IRA provision, which allows Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug costs and would limit Medicare recipients’ annual drug expenses to $2,000.

According to a Bloomberg report, U.S. citizens spend more on prescription drugs (average costs are $1,300 per person per year) than anyone in the world.

“It is true that prices for prescription drugs are lower in other countries. One reason is that in other countries, the government is more involved in healthcare. And they then have more power, more authority to set prices. And so, they basically put price controls on most prescription drugs,” SIU’s Kevin Sylwester said.

Harrison Malkin is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow him @HarrisonMalkin 

Editor’s Note: Every Thursday until the November general election, Illinois Newsroom’s Harrison Malkin conducts a Truth Test, parsing fact vs. fiction in claims made by political campaigns.

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Harrison Malkin

Harrison Malkin

Harrison Malkin is a politics reporter at Illinois Public Media. He's focusing on elections across the state, particularly the 13th and 15th congressional districts and the gubernatorial race. Malkin studied Politics and Communications at Ithaca College, where he was a nightly newscaster and reporter for WICB. From 2020 to 2021, he was a reporting fellow at the Center on Media, Crime, and Justice at John Jay College. You can send a tip, recommendation, or note to hmalkin@illinois.edu.

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