Underwood Introduces Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act to Remove Out-of-Pocket Costs for Life-Saving Treatments and Preventive Care

July 7, 2021
Press Release
Legislation is co-led by Representatives Jahana Hayes, Jan Schakowsky, and Danny K. Davis

WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) introduced the Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act, legislation that would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for common, life-saving prescription drugs, including insulin, that are used to manage chronic conditions. The Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act would require private health insurance plans, including high deductible health plans, to cover certain preventive care and prescription drugs without charging a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible-related fee. The legislation is co-led by Representatives Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Danny K. Davis (IL-07). 

“It’s unacceptable that for many Americans with chronic conditions, the price of life-saving prescription drugs remains unaffordable. As a result, people are missing their insulin doses, going without an inhaler for asthma, or splitting their pills for serious conditions,” said Underwood. “I’m leading the Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act to help patients afford the treatments and preventive services they depend on. By eliminating out-of-pocket costs for these life-saving medications, we can improve health outcomes and reduce financial strains on individuals and families in Illinois and across the country.”

The Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act would ensure many common medications, devices, and screenings used to treat chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and depression are covered without out-of-pocket costs by private insurance plans. For example, the legislation would provide no-cost coverage of:

  • Insulin and glucometers for people with diabetes;
  • Inhalers and peak flow meters for people with asthma;
  • ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and statins for people with heart disease;
  • Blood pressure monitors for people with hypertension; and
  • Other critical preventive services and treatments for people with depression, liver disease, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions.

Private insurance plans, including qualified health plans (QHPs) that individuals purchase through the Affordable Care Act, self-insured employer-sponsored plans, and high deductible health plans (HDHPs), would be required to cover these critical preventive services and treatments – based on a July 2019 IRS list – without charging any out-of-pocket costs. Rep. Underwood’s legislation improves on the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers provide preventive care without cost sharing like copays or coinsurance. 

“The Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act represents a critical milestone in fight to lower the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans, including those with diabetes,” said Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “Given the rising cost of insulin, Americans with diabetes spend more on average treating their condition than anyone else. The treatment of diabetes accounts for $1 out of every $3 spent on prescription drugs and 25 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the United States. The American Diabetes Association is happy to endorse the Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act because it would ensure life-saving prescription drugs like insulin are affordable to all Americans.”

“Every day, millions of women show what it means to thrive while living with heart disease. But that's only possible when women are supported in living a healthy lifestyle and are able to access critical medications and treatments that help prevent future heart events and support heart health," said Celina Gorre, CEO of WomenHeart. "The Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act is critical to ensuring that cost is not a barrier to accessing preventive services and care that all women living with and at risk of heart disease, as well as others, need to stay healthy."