Legislative Update: Week of July 19, 2021

Jul 20, 2021


On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held a public hearing on bills before their committee related to pharmaceutical access, cost & transparency.  MassBio’s Executive Vice President Zach Stanley testified in support of House Bill 1254 and Senate Bill 736. These bills establish new transparency rules for both pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs), mandate that the pharmaceutical industry and PBMs testify at the HPC Annual Cost Trends Hearing, provide for “horizon scanning” to Health Policy Commission (HPC) for new pipeline drugs and clarify HPC’s existing drug pricing review authority in MassHealth.

MassBio also issued the below commentary in response to House Bill 729 / Senate Bill 771:

“MassBio is opposed to both S. 771 and H. 729. The major provisions in S. 771 and H. 729 would give the state new authority to ultimately set the price of prescription drugs without a clear connection to improving patient access or affordability. These proposals are a significant overreach when more measured and proven approaches such as the policies in H. 1254/S. 736 can accomplish the goal of creating more transparency across the drug supply chain. As policymakers seek to lower out-of-pocket costs, they should be looking at solutions that directly solve these issues such as H. 1224/S. 627, currently in the Joint Committee on Financial Services, which would make the state’s co-pay assistance law permanent and also mandate health insurers share drug rebates directly with consumers at the pharmacy counter.”

And on Friday, Governor Baker signed the fiscal year 2022 budget, in part, and issued $7.9 million in vetoes, and sent back a small number of sections with amendments for the Legislature’s consideration.  


On Tuesday, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services will hold a Listening Session on their MassHealth 1115 Waiver Proposal to replace the current 1115 waiver which is set to expire on June 30, 2022.  This session will give stakeholders the opportunity to offer comments and ask questions.  The current proposal does not include language related to closing the MassHealth drug formulary.

Also, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, House Chair Joint Committee on Ways and Means Senator Michael Rodrigues, Senate Chair Joint Committee on Ways and Mean, and Representative Daniel Hunt, House Chair House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight will hold a joint hearing on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding.  The Committees will hear testimony from Governor Baker on his proposed ARPA spending bill; as well as from outside experts regarding national ARPA trends, best practices, and recommendations on spending.  Oral testimony will be solicited by invitation only.

Also on Tuesday, the U.S, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “The Path Forward: A Federal Perspective on the COVID-19 Response,” which includes testimony from Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anthony Fauci, MD, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Janet Woodcock, MD, Acting Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration; and Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services.

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