Legislative Update – Week of May 8, 2023

May 09, 2023

Last week in Washington D.C.

The Senate HELP committee began its markup of four bills: three bills related to accelerating access to generic drugs – holdover policies from last year’s PDUFA debate – as well as the “Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Reform Act.” With confusion between members around the process, the committee agreed to postpone consideration of those bills and other amendments until after the scheduled hearing with CEOs of insulin manufacturers and CEOs of the three largest PBM is complete next week. The markup is now scheduled to resume on Thursday, May 11.

Rochelle Walensky announced that she is leaving her post as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 30. The former Massachusetts General Hospital infectious diseases chief’s resignation coincides with the WHO lifting its Covid-19 global health emergency and federal and state public health emergencies ending this week.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced legislation to cut the price of prescription drugs under Medicare in half. The legislation requires that pharmaceutical manufacturers must make their medicines available to Medicare at prices that do not exceed the prices paid for the same medicines by either the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Federal Supply Schedule – whichever price is lower.

Last week in Massachusetts

Democrats John Moran and Bill MacGregor are slated to represent parts of Boston on Beacon Hill following their special election primary wins Tuesday — in races that featured no Republican or independent candidates to fill two vacant House seats. Moran, who ran uncontested won the 9th Suffolk District seat with 1,751 votes — or nearly 86 percent of all ballots cast — according to unofficial election results on the city’s website. A South End resident and housing advocate, Moran ran to replace Jon Santiago, who resigned in February to become secretary of the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services.

MacGregor, of West Roxbury, secured 3,098 votes in Boston — or about 46 percent of all ballots. Robert Orthman, of Roslindale, netted 2,303 votes, with Celia Segel, of Jamaica Plain, trailing behind at 1,392 votes. MacGregor, former chief of staff to former Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley, is poised to succeed Rep. Ed Coppinger, who resigned in February to join the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.

Governor Maura Healey, Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, and Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao kicked off the state’s economic development planning process with the first meeting of the Economic Development Planning Council at the Massachusetts State House.

Comprised of leaders from a diversity of backgrounds and regions, the council will hold a series of engagement sessions across the state this spring and summer to gather public input about the state’s economic development needs and opportunities. The council will then craft a strategic plan to guide Massachusetts’s economic development policy over the next four years.

This week in Washington D.C.

Based on current COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023.

This week in Massachusetts

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its version of the fiscal year 2024 budget Tuesday, and the Senate set a 2 p.m. Friday deadline for members to file amendments, giving committee staff and branch leadership the customary week to pore over the hundreds of add-on proposals before debate begins on May 23.

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