Legislative Update: Week of December 20, 2021

Dec 20, 2021


In Massachusetts, the $4 billion ARPA and state surplus budget package is now law.

Sharp rises in COVID-19 hospitalizations are largely unvaccinated individuals. Despite this surge, Governor Baker has declined to bring back public health measures, including indoor mask mandates. At the same time, the Commonwealth’s contact tracing program launched in April 2020 is ending.

Over 5 million Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday, December 14.

Lydia Edwards won Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for state Senate. With no opponent in the general election, Edwards is expected to be the new Senator representing the First Suffolk and Middlesex district. The current Boston City councilor will be the first Black woman elected to represent the district. She succeeds Joe Boncore, who resigned earlier this year to lead MassBio. 

A recent CHIA report on health insurance and healthcare access in Massachusetts found that Hispanic residents face greatest barriers to care. The report, based on data from 2015-2019, found that compared with non-Hispanic White residents and Black residents, Hispanic residents are less likely to have health insurance, less likely to receive regular care, and more likely to rely on emergency room visits for healthcare.

Beginning January 15, 2022, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required at restaurants, gyms and fitness, and entertainment and recreational venues in Boston. Mayor Michelle Wu announced the new public health measure as part of the city’s “B Together” campaign to address the most recent COVID-19 surge.

The U.S. Senate on Saturday confirmed Rep. Claire Cronin of Easton as U.S. ambassador to Ireland. The voice vote approval clears the way for Cronin to leave the House, where she serves as majority leader in Speaker Ron Mariano’s leadership team. The House is likely to eventually schedule a special election to fill Cronin’s seat since there’s more than a year remaining on her two-year term.


The Build Back Better Act, President Biden’s $2 trillion economic recovery and social spending package, faced a blow this weekend when Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced during a Fox News interview on Sunday that he will not vote in favor of the bill. The BBBA includes several drug pricing provisions: allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices; require inflation rebates on drugs to limit annual price increases; eliminate cost sharing for adult vaccines covered under Medicare Part D; limit cost sharing for insulin; and cap out-of-pocket spending for some Medicare patients.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to hold a special caucus on Tuesday with the hope of moving the bill forward.

The FY23 budget process kicks off in Massachusetts on Tuesday. The Joint Committee on Ways and Means hold the consensus revenue hearing, where experts will weigh in on tax revenue projections for FY23.

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