Legislative Update: Week of July 22, 2019

Jul 22, 2019


MassBio issued a survey to its membership to gauge the severity of the current state of traffic and public transportation and its impact on the life sciences workforce. With over 2000 responses, we will use the results to shape our policy and advocacy efforts. We will share the results once they are available.

In Federal news, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced 8 bipartisan health care bills to the full House, including the METRIC Act that would require certain drug manufacturers to submit documentation to the Secretary of HHS before increasing the price of certain drugs, as amended.


On Sunday, the state’s FY2020 Budget Conference Committee report was officially released. Of interest to the life sciences industry are sections 4, 6, and 46. Together, these policies create a new process designed to seek additional supplemental rebates for certain drugs that cost MassHealth more than $25,000 per patient per year or $10 million in aggregate. To do so, the policy gives Massachusetts’ HHS the authority to determine what they believe is a fair value for a drug and hold a public comment period and an optional public hearing to receive feedback on that valuation. HHS then will negotiate with a manufacturer to receive supplemental rebates to get the therapy’s cost down to that value level. If that negotiation fails, HHS can refer the matter to the HPC to determine if the drug’s price is unreasonable or excessive. In contrast to previous legislative proposals, this final language does not allow a referral to the Attorney General if the drug’s price is deemed excessive; there is no public hearing as part of the HPC process; and manufacturers are not required to testify at the HHS public hearing.  However, all testimony at that hearing is under oath, and HHS can cross-examine anyone testifying. The budget was approved by the House and Senate on Monday and sent to the Governor who has 10 days to approve it and send back any vetoes or amendments. Read MassBio CEO Bob Coughlin’s statement on the final budget language, here.

Finally, on Wednesday, the Health Policy Commission will hold a board meeting where the committee will review the findings of its report on pharmaceutical co-pay assistance.

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