ATLANTA – U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., was a leader in getting a provision capping the cost of insulin for Medicare enrollees at $35 a month into the Inflation Reduction Act Congress passed last year.

Now, Warnock is working with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on federal legislation that would extend the insulin cap to the rest of the population.

Warnock and Kennedy released a study on Tuesday – World Diabetes Day – showing that more than a quarter of the nation’s counties are “Insulin Deserts,” plagued by both high rates of uninsured residents and high rates of diabetes.

The report found most of of these counties – including 105 in Georgia – are concentrated in the South, especially the Southeast, contributing to the region’s widespread poor health outcomes.

“Despite progress over the last few years to lower out-of-pocket costs of insulin, unaffordable insulin remains pervasive across the country,” the study states. “This report confirms the need for legislation to make insulin affordable for both privately insured and uninsured Americans.”

According to the report, insulin is seven to 10 times more expensive in the United States than in other countries. Between 2014 and 2019, the list prices of certain types of insulin in the U.S. increased by about 50%.

While the $35 monthly cap on insulin for Medicare enrollees took effect last January, legislation to extend the cap to Americans with private insurance failed in the Senate by three votes.

Last March, three insulin manufacturers announced voluntary steps to lower the price of their insulin. However, the voluntary programs do not reach all eligible Americans, and there is no permanent policy that will guarantee all low-income Americans access to a drug many diabetes patients need to live.

“This alarming report makes clear who will be left behind if Congress fails to pass my $35 insulin cost cap, including uninsured Georgians who live in the 105 counties considered insulin deserts,” Warnock said. “My bipartisan legislation with Senator Kennedy would ensure that uninsured folks, especially folks in insulin deserts, are able to afford their insulin.”