Policy Updates: Week of November 9, 2017
Two-Day Health Care Reform Debate for MA Senate
Massachusetts Senators scheduled two days of debate on their health care cost containment and reform legislation which covers a range of issues from limited price variation among providers, to increased transparency around the cost of prescription drugs, to widening scope of practice laws for nurse practitioners. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate debated the bill along with 162 amendments filed.
Late last year, Senate President Stan Rosenberg convened a Senate Working Group on Health Care Cost Containment and Reform. The purpose of the Working Group was to explore best practice strategies used by other states to control health care costs while improving health outcomes and to identify approaches that Massachusetts should consider adopting. These conversations resulted in a Senate report entitled, “Health Living. Health Massachusetts.” and this reform legislation.
Federal Tax Reform Bill Would Repeal Orphan Drug Tax Credit
Last week, Congressional Republicans released their new tax reform bill, which aside from proposing provisions to lower taxes for Americans and businesses, includes a proposal to repeal the Orphan Drug Tax Credit (OCTC) as a payfor for other tax cuts included in the bill.
The ODTC is designed to promote research spending on orphan drug development. The ODTC allows orphan drug developers to receive a tax credit for 50 percent of qualified clinical trial costs for new orphan drugs. By lowering development costs, the ODTC makes it more likely that treatments for rare diseases will advance from the lab and be developed.
Although the expenditures and number of orphan drug approvals have risen in recent years, industry groups have been adamant about the importance of the tax credit in encouraging orphan drug research. According to an Ernst & Young report from 2015, 67 orphan drugs, or 33%, would likely not have been developed over the past 30 years if there had never been an orphan drug tax credit.Endpoints News/>