U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro is focused on two very different issues right now: convincing drug companies to drop the price of insulin, and speaking out against President Donald Trump’s new immigration plan.
For Castro, who represents Texas’ 20th District, the skyrocketing cost of insulin is personal: his grandmother died of complications related to diabetes. Castro says diabetes affects millions of people, and is a major health problem in the Hispanic community.
“The cost of insulin has doubled since 2012, and in the past 15 years, has gone up 300%,” Castro says.
What’s more, he says the insulin market is dominated by just a few manufacturers.
“There are three companies that control 90% of the insulin market,” Castro says.
He and his colleagues have met with pharma industry leaders to urge them to reduce their prices. Castro says one company, Novo Nordisk, makes 40% profit on each insulin purchase.
“[The companies] acknowledge there’s a problem. They acknowledge that they are part of the problem, along with pharmacy benefit management companies and insurance companies,” Castro says.
High insulin prices are a particular problem for people with no insurance, and 20% of Texans are in that category. They’re also a problem for those with high insurance deductibles, Castro says.
When it comes to immigration, Democrats, including Castro, reacted negatively to the new immigration plan proposed by President Trump. Castro says the plan, which moves away from a more family-focused immigration policy toward one that encourages the immigration of highly skilled migrants, doesn’t address the realities of immigration in the U.S. today.
“It’s a plan that really doesn’t account for the asylum situation at the border, doesn’t account for the DACA recipients or TPS recipients that we need to deal with now,” he says.
Castro challenges Trump’s championing of so-called merit-based immigration, and says he still supports family-based immigration policies.
“This country became the most powerful, most prosperous nation on Earth without cherry-picking who comes to this country,” Castro says. “We have always had a system that’s based around family-based immigration.”
Castro says an immigration plan should also include investments in the Central American countries from which many migrants and asylum-seekers have left. He also wants better care for the migrants who do make it to the U.S. border.
“We have to do a better job of making sure that we treat these people as human beings,” Castro says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.