Legislative Update: Week of April 29, 2019
After considering 1370 amendments over four days, the Massachusetts House of Representatives completed debate last week on their version of the FY2020 Budget Recommendations. This sets the stage for the Senate to debate their own version of the budget in May. After that is complete, a joint House/Senate Conference Committee will iron out the differences of the two proposals with the goal of getting the Final FY2020 Budget to the Governor’s desk before the beginning of the state’s Fiscal Year on July 1.
Included in the original House budget was language that would radically alter the state’s Medicaid (MassHealth) prescription drug program by allowing the state to set the price for any drug by forcing manufacturers to agree to supplemental rebates through the threat of public shaming and financial penalties.
In response, MassBio supported Amendment #1057 would apply significant guardrails to any supplemental rebate negotiations and remove the public shaming and financial penalties components. That amendment, in a slightly different form, passed and was included in the final House budget. The final House language on this issue, while far from ideal, is significantly better than what was originally proposed. The issue is not over though as the Senate will draft their own language on the topic.
Also of interest to our industry was Amendment #902, which was also adopted. This amendment would extend, to July 1, 2020, the law allowing for co-pay assistance programs and discounts to patients for prescription drugs for which no therapeutically equivalent generic alternative exists, as well as biologics. Currently, this exemption expires on January 1, 2020.
Yesterday, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure held a public hearing on a range of bills including two bills designed to crack down on patient trolls - Senate Bill 159, filed by Senator Lessor, and House Bill 229, filed by Representative Ehrlich. MassBio submitted written testimony in support of these bills with the qualification that the final bill must include the existing language which allows universities, research institutions, and the like to continue to assert their patent rights.
On Wednesday, the Health Policy Commission will hold its board meeting where they will be releasing a report on insulin pricing along with holding a discussions about an upcoming study on prescription drug coupons.