Wisconsin farmer Penni Klein: The Inflation Reduction Act is a lifesaver - TAI News
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Penni Klein (Photo provided)

Cross Plains, Wisconsin, farmer and retired public lands administrator Penni Klein was diagnosed with diabetes in 2018. After she spent years struggling to pay hundreds of dollars a month for her insulin, a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act now caps her monthly cost at $35.

Klein told the Wisconsin Independent in a phone interview that her monthly payment for insulin had been about $400: “That’s a car payment. That’s half a mortgage. … And that $400 a month was a lot of money, you know, for trying to survive on my own.”

At President Joe Biden’s urging, the Democratic-led Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, investing in clean energy and health care and slashing co-payments for Medicare recipients. Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin helped pass the law, which included a $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare Part D enrollees and a $35-a-month cost limit for Medicare beneficiaries. 

“I call that a lifesaver, literally,” Klein said.

Prior to the law’s enactment, she noted, many people with diabetes would have to skip insulin doses or skip meals due to the high costs. Klein credits Biden and Baldwin for making it possible for her to afford to keep her farm and turn her health around. 

For me, that was a game changer,” she explained, adding that she uses her monthly savings to give back through donations and to take care of her body’s needs. “I go and get that lymphatic massage to help drain the fluids that are building up because of the diabetes. I go to physical therapy every two weeks. I go and have certain things done, physically, medically done, that I have to pay for. And I wouldn’t have done that when I was paying $400 a month.”

The Inflation Reduction Act’s insulin provisions only apply to Americans who get insurance through Medicare. Baldwin is a co-sponsor of the Improving Needed Safeguards for Users of Lifesaving Insulin Now, a bill to cap costs for people with private insurance plans. 

Klein, who also uses a rescue inhaler, pointed to Baldwin’s successful work to reduce out-of-pocket costs for those. After Baldwin and three Democratic colleagues on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions led an investigation into price gouging by big pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of brand name inhalers agreed to a $35 monthly out-of-pocket price cap.

“Those were $180 a month. Now they’re only $35 thanks to Tammy and Joe,” she said. “I’ve got to have the inhalers to breathe and live.”

The impact of these new policies on her own life and health makes Klein optimistic. “People can actually make changes,” she said. “They can actually get change that they need.”

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The Wisconsin Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.