Health center advocates are trying to stamp out fast-spreading claims on social media that the Biden administration, in freezing a Trump administration rule, raised the price of insulin.
Facebook and Twitter have been filled with posts and counter-posts about the cost of insulin since Fox News on Jan. 23 published an article with the headline “Biden admin freezes Trump HHS rule meant to lower insulin prices.” The short article describes the new administration’s Jan. 21 decision to push back, from Jan. 22 until March 22, the effective date of the Trump administration’s rule to require health centers to provide insulin and injectable epinephrine to low-income patients at the price centers pay for those drugs under the 340B program.
Health centers have pointed out, in opposing the rule, that they already give sliding scale discounts on insulin and other prescription drugs to patients with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The rule, they say, gives low-income patients with diabetes no new help affording insulin, and does nothing to make drug manufacturers reduce their insulin prices.
The Fox News article said the Trump administration rule was “designed to bring down the price of insulin,” and “aimed to require some community health centers to deliver savings to low-income patients for insulin and epinephrine in a bid to bring down unaffordable prices.”
The conservative news website BizPacReview.com, in a Jan. 23 article, said the Biden administration’s action “has triggered anger from Americans, some of them doctors, who feel as if Biden is sticking it to those with diabetes for partisan reasons.” BizPacReview said the new administration’s reasons for freezing the policy are murky. Citing an Oct. 29 article in 340B Report, it said “ever since the rule was signed into law last summer, the National Association of Community Health Centers and other groups have been issuing statements claiming its implementation would do more harm than good.”
“The Biden administration believes the NACHC and its allies have a point, and so the delay in the rule’s implementation will allow officials to review the fine print for themselves and determine whether this point is indeed valid or just nonsense,” BizPacReview wrote.
In a news release issued yesterday afternoon, NACHC said the rule that the Biden administration froze “would adversely impact Community Health Centers and the nearly 30 million patients they serve—a majority of whom are living in poverty or are uninsured.”
NACHC said the rule “triggered alarm among safety net providers and bipartisan lawmakers because it would accomplish the opposite of what the Trump Administration intended—ultimately making it harder for health centers to provide affordable life-saving services and prescription drugs—especially during the pandemic.”
“Just to be clear,” it said, “the insulin and EpiPen regulation that was frozen by the Biden Administration only affects medications purchased through the 340B drug discount program at health centers. The overall prices of insulin and EpiPens across the country are not affected by the Trump Administration regulation or the recent action by the Biden Administration.”