Massachusetts is unarguably the world leader in life sciences innovation. We also lead in healthcare policy and access to high quality healthcare and breakthrough therapies. That’s why it’s critical we educate and inform state legislators as they make decisions that impact our ecosystem.
Some of our current state priorities include:
FY 2020 Budget
Massachusetts has an annual budget process that often includes policy changes in the outside sections of the bill. A major, proposed reform to the state’s Medicaid (MassHealth) prescription drug program was included in the outside sections of the Governor’s budget proposal. It contains language that authorizes MassHealth to engage in direct price negotiations with drug manufacturers. In addition, it would subject high-cost prescription drugs to a public rate-setting process. If a drug manufacturer does not offer a rebate to meet the regulated target price, the manufacturer may be referred to the Health Policy Commission (HPC) and be subject to disclosure requirements, public hearings, and potential referral to the Attorney General for action under the state’s consumer protection law.
The House initially proposed in their budget something similar but ultimately passed, through the amendment process, a heavily revised version that removes much of that public process, eliminates a possible referral to the Attorney General, and creates guidelines for how the process can and should play out.
The Senate is currently debating their version of the budget which contains a MassHealth proposal similar to the Governor’s original language. The House and Senate will appoint a Conference Committee to iron out the differences in the budgets, with the goal of sending a final budget, which will include a compromise version of these reform outside sections, to the Governor before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, 2020.
2019-2020 State Legislation
An Act to Ensure the fair, transparent and patient-focused use of health technology assessments by the Commonwealth (Sponsored by Sen. Boncore/Rep. Coppinger)
These bills seek to restrict the use of health technology assessments (HTAs) by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) when negotiating supplemental rebate agreements.
MassBio Position: Support. If EOHHS engages with a third-party to evaluate the clinical, economic or public health value of medical innovations, including prescription drugs, the entity should be an independent, non-biased group and should not be funded or receive support from any health insurance company, pharmaceutical manufacturing company or pharmacy benefit manager.
An Act Relative to co-pay assistance (Sponsored by Sen. Boncore/Rep. Benson)
This bill would eliminate the existing sunset of the state law allowing co-pay assistance programs which is currently set to expire on January 1, 2020.
MassBio Position: Support. MassBio supports the elimination of the co-pay assistance sunset. (Download the letter to the MA HPC regarding its study on the impact of prescription drug coupons)
An Act Promoting transparency in the pharmaceutical industry (Sponsored by Rep. Mariano)
This bill would require the Center for Health and Information (CHIA) to report annually on the top 10 outpatient prescription drugs that accounted for a significant share of net state spending in the prior calendar year, and that experienced an increase in WAC cost of 25% or more in that prior year, considering any adjustments for rebates paid to the state. Manufacturers of the 10 identified drugs must disclose factors that contributed to the increase in WAC in a form that is suitable for public release, as well as aggregate company level R&D costs and other capital costs that CHIA deems relevant.
Also includes transparency language relative to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs).
MassBio Position: Neutral. MassBio is supportive of the concepts contained in this bill. Any transparency legislation being considered should include transparency for all stakeholders across the entire healthcare system.
An Act to protect innovation and entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth (Sponsored by Sen. Lesser / Rep. Erlich)
These bills aim to discourage bad faith assertions of patent infringement and target “patent trolls.”
MassBio Position: Support, with the inclusion of Section 2 (d). Patent protection ensures the viability of the discoveries from medical research institutions and universities, so they can be commercialized. Section 2 (d) protects these discoveries from any unintended consequences of patent reform. (Download the written testimony)
An Act Establishing a commission to review contracts between pharmaceutical benefit managers and MassHealth (Sponsored by Rep. Jones)
This bill would establish a commission of 10 members – representing each stakeholder in the pharmaceutical drug supply chain – to evaluate the transition of MassHealth from its existing drug purchasing contract model with pharmacy benefit managers to a pass-through model.
MassBio Position: Support. MassBio supports the state in its efforts to review the practices of pharmacy benefit managers and evaluate the transition to a pass-through model. PBMs have long exploited the state and its residents through spread pricing and this bill is a significant step to lower the cost of prescription drugs, without harming innovation or the biotech industry. (Download the written testimony)
Legislation Related to Price Setting and Transparency of Prescription Drug Prices
MassBio Position: Oppose. MassBio is in strong opposition of any legislation that would set a cap on the price a manufacturer can charge for a drug. Any form of price setting would severely harm innovation in the Commonwealth, threaten patient access to potentially life-saving therapies, and impair the reputation of Massachusetts as the number one life sciences cluster in the world. Further, any drug price transparency legislation must apply fairly to all pieces of the drug supply chain including PBMs and payers. (Download the written testimony)
Transportation is one of the biggest threats facing the continued success of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. In a recent survey, 30% of residents statewide with full-time jobs said they have considered changing jobs for a better commute. For those with commutes longer than 45 minutes, including many of those coming to Cambridge every day, it’s even worse: 51% have thought about changing jobs and 30% have considered moving out of Greater Boston completely.
MassBio is committed to being part of the solution. We are members of the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Transportation, joining business and community associations across the state that are developing potential solutions to our traffic and public transportation problems.
MassBioEd estimates the Massachusetts life sciences industry to add 12,000 jobs by 2023. Finding talent to fill these roles will require a public/private commitment to training students from across the state, from early in their education through college, whether they are attending MIT or Bridgewater State University, to become proficient in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
MassBio regularly advocates in support of policies that will increase the number of students studying STEM and allow these same students to access careers in the life sciences. Additionally, we have a leading Diversity & Inclusion initiative that seeks to create pathways for students of diverse backgrounds to obtain careers in the life sciences through programs such as Project Onramp.