Legislative Update – July 11, 2022

Jul 12, 2022

Last week:

On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Democrats released their redrafted legislative text for a drug pricing proposal. The legislation is similar to that which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year. The bill would require Medicare to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers, allow greater cost-sharing for seniors, and discourage drugmakers from raising prices.

The Biden Administration is seeking a director for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, known as ARPA-H, which is the newly-established health and life sciences research organization modeled after DARPA. Industry, government, and education leaders in Massachusetts have been campaigning for the ARPA-H headquarters to be in Massachusetts. MassBio CEO Joe Boncore pointed out in an interview with Axios that Massachusetts makes the most sense, as it is already home to “the talent, academia, teaching hospitals, one of the largest biotech clusters in the world.”

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to fund early education and childcare by making childcare more affordable and increasing salaries for early educators in Massachusetts. 

Democratic leaders in the Massachusetts Legislature have reached an agreement on a tax relief package. The legislation would increase the tax credits available to seniors, low-income workers, and parents and reshape the estate tax. Additionally, their package includes a proposal to provide $250 rebates to eligible Massachusetts taxpayers and $500 rebates to certain joint filers. Governor Charlie Baker has indicated his support of the measure. The $250 rebate would be available for individuals who make between $38,000 and $100,000 per year and $500 rebate for joint filers who make between $38,000 and $150,000 per year. The House is expected to debate the bill this week.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has accepted Biogen’s application for accelerated approval of lecanemab, their drug designed to slow the progression of dementia. The FDA plans to complete the review by early January.

The Berkshire Flyer made the first trip from New York City to Pittsfield, which a passenger train has not done in over 50 years.

This week:

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senate will debate reproductive health legislation. The bill (S.2996) is the Senate’s version of similar legislation passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives last month. The House bill (H.4954) includes protections for providers and patients and measures to ensure abortion access.

On Thursday, the Senate will debate the $10.38 billion proposed infrastructure bill. The bill (S.2989) funds a number of provisions including safety measures for the MBTA, regional rail connection to western Mass. The deadline for members to file amendments is Monday at 5:00pm. The legislation passed unanimously by the House of Representative last month invested nearly $11 billion into the transportation system.

The Health Policy Commission meets on Wednesday to discuss policy recommendations included in the Health Care Cost Trends Report, which will be released in the fall.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is endorsing Maura Healey for Governor. Healey is the only Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race following Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s decision to end her campaign.

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