Tuberville Questions Secretary of Health and Human Services Nominee

Senator Tuberville raised concerns over insulin prices, struggling rural pharmacies and hospitals

WASHINGTON —U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) questioned Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Xavier Becerra during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) hearing and pressed him on his plan to reduce insulin prices and the importance of rural pharmacies in our communities. Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s line of questioning can be found below and the full video can be found here.

On Insulin Prices:

TUBERVILLE: “How are we going to get the price of insulin down? We have got to get it down. People can’t afford it.”

BECERRA: “On insulin, the patients have to come first. We have to make sure that they’re not going to get caught in this mess about how much it costs. But there is no reason why the price of insulin should jump by essentially 100 percent overnight. And we have to deal with that. We want to make sure the drug manufactures are probably compensated but at the same time these are lifesaving medications that people need and we have to make them available. I look forward to working with you and your colleagues to make sure we can do that.”

On Rural Pharmacies and the role of Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers (PBM):

TUBERVILLE: “Rural pharmacies, especially in the state of Alabama, they’re like hospitals. They’re like doctors’ offices because they are the only real connection people have to health care in some of these areas. We’re losing them because of PBMs – they’re getting priced out… Explain your plan with PBMs and cutting out the middleman where our pharmacies can make some money.”

BECERRA: “The pharmaceutical benefit managers have a role… the role can’t be to just be middlemen and to gouge the price.”

“What we have to do is keep them on their toes… at the end of the day, they’re supposed to serve the purpose of getting a good price for Medicare for the drugs that our seniors need.”

TUBERVILLE: “The rural, the smaller pharmacies are paying these rebates and they’re paying all their profits. And we just can’t lose them in these rural areas across the country. If we do, I mean, we’re going to be in serious trouble.”

“In Alabama, for instance, we’ve lost 14 hospitals in 10 years – rural hospitals – and the only thing they have left is a pharmacy.”

Additionally, Tuberville will continue to follow up with written Questions for the Record regarding the Medicare Wage Index, which disproportionately harms Alabama hospitals.

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.