Legislative Update: Week of March 29, 2021

Mar 30, 2021


On Thursday, the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) released its “2021 Annual Report on Performance of the Massachusetts Health Care System.” Of particular interest to the life sciences industry are slides 19-27 which are specific to pharmacy spend. The key takeaway from the report is that net of prescription drug rebates, pharmacy spending was $8.3 billion, an increase of 3.0% from the prior year (a lower rate than the 3.6% growth the prior year).

MassBio’s Executive Vice President, Zach Stanley, issued the below statement on the report:

“Today’s CHIA report makes it clear that prescription drugs are not a leading driver of healthcare costs in Massachusetts. Between 2018 and 2019, pharmacy expenditures in Massachusetts grew by just 3.0%, which means it was one of only two healthcare expenditure categories that came in below the state’s 3.1% growth benchmark. The report also demonstrates that total 2019 pharmacy spend, net of rebates, accounted for just 14.5% of total health care expenditures – the same as in 2018.

Today’s report is significant and refutes the growing calls for government to regulate drug prices. Pharmacy spend has accounted for 12 – 15% of national healthcare expenditures for decades and today’s CHIA report shows the same is true in Massachusetts. Drug costs are not the concern – high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are.”

On Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that the mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center would be supported by the federal government with an additional 6,000 doses a day, raising daily capacity to 7,000 doses.


On Monday, President Biden announced that by April 19, 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live. The President announced that the Administration is increasing the number of pharmacies in the federal pharmacy vaccination program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 across the country and will stand up a dozen more mass vaccination sites by April 19.  He also announced a new effort to fund community organizations to provide transportation and assistance for the nation’s most at-risk seniors and people with disabilities to access vaccines.

With news of an increased supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccines coming to Massachusetts this week, Governor Baker unveiled a new vaccination program to reach homebound residents. Under this program, anyone considered homebound (requires two or more people to leave their residence) who can’t access local providers, pharmacies, or mass sites will be eligible regardless of age or health condition. 10,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be allocated for this program this week, and more will follow.

In Congress, the United States Senate and House of Representatives have concluded legislative business and are on recess until the week of April 12. The House is expected to return April 13 and the Senate is expected to return on April 12.

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