The claim: President Joe Biden “ rescinds ” an executive order put in place by Donald Trump to reduce patient costs for insulin and epinephrine.
For years, members of Congress have pressured drug companies and drug benefit managers to control the rising costs of insulin and epinephrine for millions of Americans with diabetes and diabetes. allergies.
In July 2020, President Donald Trump signed four executive orders aimed at reducing the costs of prescription drugs. One of them required that federally qualified health centers, which purchase insulin and epinephrine under what is known as the 340B drug program, pass on the savings they receive discounted drug prices to medically underserved patients.
The rule prevents health centers from receiving future federal grants unless they charge patients the purchase price of insulin and EpiPens – epinephrine auto-injectors – plus small administration fees.
At the time, the US Department of Health and Human Services said the move would increase access to insulin and EpiPens for the 28 million patients who visit community health centers each year, including more than 6 million are not insured.
During the election campaign last year, Trump repeatedly claimed that because of the executive orders, he was delivering on his promise to lower drug prices.
The HHS approved the rule for community health centers in December and it was due to go into effect on January 22.
A Facebook user claims President Joe Biden is “rescinding” Trump’s executive order. “This is NOT a partisan issue and it will hurt Americans,” read the January 22 post, which has nearly 1,000 shares.
Another social media user claimed Biden had ended “savings on cob and insulin.”
USA TODAY has reached out to the social media user for comment.
More:Fact-check: No basis to claim President Joe Biden’s nomination was rigged
Implementation of the rule has been delayed
Biden’s White House chief of staff Ronald Klain announced a regulatory freeze on “all new and pending rules” when Biden took office on January 20. The insulin and epinephrine rule freeze is effective until March 22.
According to Bloomberg Law, “A regulatory break is a common tradition among incoming presidents to ensure that the unfinished policies of the previous administration align with the new.”
The National Association of Community Health Centers, among others, has expressed support for the new administration’s decision, saying the Trump rule would not have reduced the cost of insulin and EpiPens for most Americans who use them, as advertised.
In a Jan.25 statement, he also said the Trump rule reflected a “fundamental misunderstanding” of federally qualified health centers and the 340B drug program, which placed a heavy administrative burden on them.
“The stated objective was to reduce drug prices. However, this set off alarm bells among safety net providers and bipartisan lawmakers, as it would accomplish the opposite of what the Trump administration intended – ultimately, it would be more difficult for health centers to providing life-saving services and affordable prescription drugs – especially during the pandemic, the association said.
He stressed that the only patients concerned would be those who use the health centers.
The overall prices of insulin and EpiPens across the country are unaffected by the Trump administration’s regulations or by recent action by the Biden administration, the Association of Health Centers said.
Community health centers serve one in 11 Americans across the country, according to the US Health Resources & Services Administration.
More:Here are all the executive orders President Joe Biden has signed so far
Global insulin, EpiPen pricing is not affected
Nationally, 30 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. And nearly one in 50 Americans is at risk for anaphylaxis caused by certain foods, insect bites, drugs and latex, according to a 2013 study by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
But not all of these patients need insulin or epinephrine. And most of those living in extreme poverty, less than 200% of the federal poverty level – an equation that works out to $ 34,840 for a family of two – already receive free or discounted prescription drugs, said an expert in national health policy.
Karyn Schwartz, senior researcher at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan non-profit organization that analyzes health policy, said some patients served by the 1,400 federally-supported health centers nationwide, such that those with high deductibles or those who are uninsured and pay list prices for the drug, would have benefited from the new pricing rule.
But it’s hard to say how many, she said. It is also difficult to speculate on how many new patients would switch their care to a community health center to take advantage of the reduced prices of insulin and EpiPen, she said.
Additionally, Sayeh Nikpay, associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, told PolitiFact that if the Trump rule freeze could make the situation worse for some patients who receive insulin or epinephrine from a health center, which could reduce services. for a wide range of needy patients if it had the effect of reducing access to the 340B program by centers, which use its revenues to subsidize their programs.
U.S. Representative Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, who opposed the Trump administration’s rule, said in a press release that “by targeting centers providing these drugs to those without insurance or the means to get care instead of the big pharmaceutical companies, the HHS risks making matters worse for a community already in need. Community health centers provide essential lifelines to our communities. This is not the case. which is why the costs of drugs, especially insulin, are too high in this country. ”
Our decision: missing context
We rate this claim regarding the action of the Biden administration as a MISSING CONTEXT, based on our research. Some patients who use insulin and EpiPens – the fraction that is served by federally qualified health centers – may benefit from Trump’s order, but others could suffer if it results in reduced access centers with the 340B Drug Rebate Program. Moreover, the freeze until March 22 does not represent a final action on the program, so it is premature to call it a “reversal”.
Our sources of fact-checking:
- Federal Register, Executive Order No. 13937
- US Department of Health and Human Services, July 2020, “Trump Administration Announces Landmark Action to Lower Drug Prices for Americans”
- Bloomberg Law, July 28, 2020, “Insulin and Epinephrine Prices Unlikely Despite Trump Order”
- Kaiser Health News, Aug 26, 2020, “Trump Again Claims He’s Dropping Drug Prices, But Details On How Are Meager”
- White House, January 20, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review
- National Association of Community Health Centers, “President Biden Freezes Regulations on Insulin / Epipene Harmful to Community Health Centers and Patients”
- PolitiFact, Jan. 26, “ISIS, Drug Prices and COVID-19 Deaths: How a Viral Post Misleads in Biden’s Early Days in Power”
- US Health Resources & Services Administration, About Health Centers
- American Diabetes Association
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “Anaphylaxis in America”
- Press release from representative Cindy Axne
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