Legislative Update: Week of May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022


At MassBio’s annual Spring Reception in Washington, DC, Joe Boncore welcomed special guests former Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Representative and House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, along with Capitol Hill staff, industry leaders, and senior government affairs executives.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee (E&C) approved a measure (H.R. 5585), in a 53-3 vote, which would authorize the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). This independent agency would aim to accelerate biomedical innovation and make transformative breakthroughs in the most challenging diseases, in the same way that existing federal programs, like DARPA, helped pave the way for the internet and GPS. The committee adopted a substitute amendment that would require the Senate to confirm the head of ARPA-H. The bill now moves the House floor.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker last week filed a $1.7 billion supplemental budget, which will include millions of dollars in funds for offshore wind infrastructure, transportation projects, workforce housing development, and small business assistance.

Gubernatorial hopeful Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) earned the Massachusetts Republican party’s endorsement at the MassGOP 2022 Convention over the weekend. Diehl will face Chris Doughty (R-Wrentham) in the Republican primary for Governor in September. The MassDems Convention will be held in Worcester on June 3-4. A Centers for Disease Control panel recommended Pfizer’s Covid booster for kids 5 to 11. This key vaccine advisory panel voted to recommend that children from age of 5 and 11 get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine at least five months after they received their second dose.


On Tuesday, the Senate begins debate on their $49.7 billion fiscal year 2023 budget proposal. Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) filed amendment #831 “Copay Assistance Sunset Extension” and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) filed amendment #385 “Prescription Drug Coupon,” both of which would extend the use of prescription drug coupons until 2026. Identical language was included in the House budget passed last month, thanks to a redrafted amendment filed by Representative Ed Coppinger (D-Boston). Senator Tarr also filed amendment #580 “Repealing the Sunset on Co-Pay Assistance,” which would repeal the sunset entirely. The current law is due to sunset on January 1, 2023. If the sunset is not eliminated or extended by the Legislature before the end of 2022, Massachusetts residents will not be allowed to access coupons or vouchers under any circumstances. Budget debates are expected to continue at least through Thursday.

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