Legislative Update: Week of July 29, 2019

Jul 29, 2019


Last Wednesday, the Health Policy Commission discussed the preliminary findings of its report on pharmaceutical co-pay assistance during its board meeting. Through its report, the HPC is to analyze and evaluate the effect of drug coupons and vouchers for prescription drugs on pharmaceutical spending and health care costs in Massachusetts. It is focusing on five aspects: the total number and value of coupons redeemed in MA and the types of drugs for which coupons were most frequently redeemed; changes in utilization of generic vs brand name prescription drugs and therapeutically-equivalent brand name drugs; effects on patient adherence and access to innovative therapies; the availability of coupons or discounts upon renewals and the cost impact on consumers upon expiration of coupons; and the impact of drug coupons on health care cost containment goals. The full report is scheduled to be released in September.

As the debate around drug pricing continues to gain traction in Congress, the Senate Finance Committee held a markup on Thursday to address the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019. Members filed 110 amendments to the proposal, for consideration during the markup. At the conclusion of this meeting, the Committee advanced to the full Senate the Chairman’s Mark of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act by a 19-9 vote, as modified. The final language retains the cap on drug price increases that exceed the rate of inflation in the Medicare program. While not officially included in the plan, Senator Grassley alluded to his proposal to add back in the rebate rule that was previously dropped and would have banned most rebates paid by drug manufacturers to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the full package will save the government $100 billion of the next 10 years


The Governor is expected to approve and send back any vetoes or amendments to the FY2020 Budget early this week, before the beginning of the new month on Thursday.

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