Legislative Update: Week of March 11, 2022

Mar 15, 2022


In DC, Congress approved a fiscal year 2022 Omnibus Spending Measure, funding the federal government for the remainder of FY 2022 (September 30, 2022). Passage of the legislation came after months of delay and three temporary continuing resolutions (CRs) designed to keep the government afloat until legislators could agree on a final product. Congress was up against a midnight March 11 deadline before a government shutdown was set to occur. The President signed the bill into law on Friday.

In Massachusetts, state legislators and staff entering the Senate and House chambers still need to provide proof of vaccination and wear masks. These measures remain in place after State House leaders relaxed COVID-19 measures, allowing visitors to enter the building without masks nor proof of vaccination.


In DC, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Prescription Drug Price Inflation: An Urgent Need to Lower Drug Prices in Medicare” on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. The witnesses will include Rena M. Conti, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Markets, Public Policy and Law, Questrom School of Business, Boston University; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., President, American Action Forum; Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; and Steffany Stern, M.P.P., Vice President, Advocacy, National Multiple Sclerosis Society 

In Massachusetts, on Monday, the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) released its “2022 Annual Report on Performance of the Massachusetts Health Care System” which showed that total healthcare expenditures in Massachusetts in 2020 declined by 2.4%.

According to the report, net of rebates, pharmacy spending increased 7.7%. This is an increase from 2.7% in 2019 (revised down in this report from 3.0%)

Statement from Joe Boncore, CEO of MassBio, on CHIA’s 2022 Annual Report:

Prescription drugs continue to bring significant value to patients around the world by treating and curing disease. There is no better example of that than the COVID-19 vaccines which have saved millions of lives worldwide just in the last year. In 2020, when people could not or would not visit their doctors for regular or preventative care, the one constant that kept them healthy and out of the hospital was their continued ability to access the medicines they needed to keep them healthy. Unfortunately, this report does not measure healthcare spending that is saved because of prescription drug uptake and adherence.

What we do know is that CHIA’s prescription drug expenditure growth data, net of rebates, is way out of line with the national data where net prescription drug spending only increased 3% during the same time period. Regrettably, CHIA’s data about prescription drug spending, specifically regarding average rebate levels across payers including MassHealth, is not included in this report despite its inclusion in previous reports. For a report that intends to inform public policy decisions and has significantly detailed data breakdowns for other areas of healthcare expenditures, intentionally leaving out these critical data seems counterintuitive and counterproductive.”

Today, the Senate and House Committees on Ways and Means hold a joint hearing on the education and local aid items in the Governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal.

On Wednesday at noon the Joint Health Care Financing Committee and the Health Policy Commission hold a joint briefing on the HPC’s cost growth analysis. The purpose of the public hearing is to inform the setting of the state’s health care growth benchmark. The benchmark is an annual target against which spending increases are measured. The benchmark is tied to the growth in the state’s economy and, under the cost-control law that created it, is on track to be set at 3.6 percent — the level state budget writers expect the gross state product to grow — for 2023.

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