Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation aimed to improve access to primary and behavioral health care. The legislation also includes numerous drug pricing provisions including assessing drug manufacturers when prices exceed cost growth benchmark, imposing penalties on excessive drug price increases, and establishing new oversight authority for pharmacy benefit managers (PMBs). MassBio released a statement on the Governor’s legislation: “This bill will not reduce out of pocket costs for patients as it fails to recognize the role insurers play in setting the prices for prescription drugs. In fact, it would have countless unintended consequences for patients with unmet medical needs. With little time left in this legislative session and other healthcare reform proposals on the table, we hope legislators focus on more direct solutions, such as mandating insurers share drug rebates directly with patients to drive down costs without jeopardizing new drugs reaching patients.”
The Governor also filed “An Act Relative to Massachusetts’s Transportation Resources and Climate,” (MassTRAC) a $9.7 billion infrastructure bond bill. This bill aims to advance and support significant investments in the Commonwealth’s transportation and environmental infrastructure, as well as provide critical and required state matching funds to compete for, unlock, and leverage federal formula and discretionary investments provided by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) enacted in November 2021.
New data released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday showed that Massachusetts has the fourth-longest commute time among states, with the average worker’s trip to work clocking in at 30 minutes. That is an increase of an average of 2.7 minutes from 2010, the last time such data was available. Pre-pandemic traffic is back, but congestion and commuting patterns have shifted over the past three years. There is a 30% increase in traffic during the morning rush on I-93 from Massachusetts Avenue Connector to Braintree split. Meanwhile, morning and evening traffic on the Mass Pike is 9 to 24% faster compared with 2019 data. Still, public transit ridership on MBTA’s rapid transit lines is 45% of February 2019 levels.
Former state Representative Leah Cole Allen (R-Danvers) is running as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts as an informal ticket with Republican candidate for Governor Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman).
Hearings begin on Monday for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings through Thursday.
The Green Line extension north towards Union Square in Somerville officially opens on Monday. Part one of the Green Line Extension represents the first new MBTA branch on the system’s core rapid transit network since 1987. People will be able to ride Green Line trolleys to a reopened Science Park station, a newly constructed Lechmere Station, and a brand-new stop in Somerville’s Union Square.
The Senate and House Committees on Ways and Means hold a joint hearing on Monday on the Governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal on spending items related to public safety, judiciary, and the Attorney General. Attorney General Maura Healey is scheduled to testify.
On Tuesday, the Commonwealth’s Future of Work Commission meets to discuss final changes to their draft report.