The Massachusetts Senate passed the legislation related to patient access and health costs, known as the PACT Act on Thursday. This session’s PACT Act builds on what the Senate passed in 2019, presenting a comprehensive approach to pharmaceutical cost control that focuses on access and cost improvement, transparency and oversight. New provisions in the bill include permanently capping co-pays for insulin at $25 per 30-day supply, ensuring that patients can get prescriptions at the pharmacy of their choice, and creating a new drug cost assistance trust fund. Read our statement from Zach Stanley, MassBio’s Chief of Corporate Affairs.
Governor Baker signed the $101 million COVID-19 funding relief into law. Passed by the Legislature last week, the bill includes funds to increase access to PPE, COVID-19 vaccines, and rapid tests.
The Governor also announced that the school mask mandate in Massachusetts will be lifted on February 28. Prior to Baker’s announcement, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had already approved requests for 42 public schools across Massachusetts to lift their mask mandates before February 28, as at least 80-percent of all students and staff at those schools have been vaccinated,.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has set forth a series of public health benchmarks the city must meet before COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. A number of cities and towns across Massachusetts are also lifting their COVID-19 restrictions, including indoor mask mandates and proof-of-vaccination requirements.
Beginning in March, Massachusetts will issue $500 payments to around 500,000 Massachusetts workers through the Essential Employee Premium Pay program. The payments are directed towards low-income workers who worked in-person during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic before vaccines and other therapies were available.
Boston will have a fare-free pilot on three MBTA bus routes beginning March 1. The three routes are among the highest ridership in the city of Boston. The city will use federal COVID-19 relief funds to support the two-year pilot.
The Massachusetts State House will reopen to the public beginning Tuesday, February 22. Visitors must wear masks and provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours to enter the building.
On Tuesday, the Joint Ways and Means Committee will hold their second of several hearings on Governor Baker’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. This hearing will focus on health and human services and include testimony from several agencies, including the Health Policy Commission.
Starting on Tuesday, the state elections division will make available nominations papers for candidates who are planning on running in the 200 newly created legislative districts this fall. This year the primary election will be held on September 6th, with the general election on November 8th.
The House is expected to meet in formal session on Wednesday. House Speaker Ron Mariano indicated that members should be prepared for roll call votes and potential action on the Work and Family Mobility Act, legislation allowing Massachusetts residents to apply for driver’s licenses regardless of citizenship status.