On Monday, the Massachusetts Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 4929, An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety, legislation that limits the use of step therapy in Massachusetts. This bill is a big step forward in ensuring access to critical medications and treatments for those suffering from rare and serious illnesses. Step therapy occurs when an insurer requires a patient to fail on one drug prior to authorizing a different drug that may be more expensive. A requirement of this nature can cause unnecessary pain and suffering for patients whose physicians have already approved a different treatment. The legislation now heads to Governor Baker’s desk for final approval.
Employees working for the city of Boston, Google, Sanofi, and retailers at Assembly Row in Somerville will be able to ride the MBTA subways and buses for free under a two-year pilot program paid for by the employers. The new initiative, announced on Monday, is an extension of an existing program run by MIT that allows the university to pay after the fact for individual trips taken by employees and students. The MIT program, which has been in place since 2016, also offers significant discounts on monthly passes and commuter rail service.
Also on Monday, the Cambridge City Council voted to end minimum parking requirements in their zoning code in housing developments. The Council hopes that by ending the requirement to do away with one off-street parking spot per housing unit will lead to more affordable housing. Real estate and development community has welcomed the policy citing cost-saving advantages.
A new study from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the rate of people primarily working from home tripled from 2019 to 2021. Massachusetts has among the highest work-from-home rates in the country with nearly one in four residents working from home. Do you work from home? Would you consider changing jobs if it would provide a more flexible work-from-home policy? Tell us by completing MassBio’s Transportation Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MassBioTransportation
On Wednesday, the Health Policy Commission will hold its annual cost trends hearing. The theme of this year’s hearing is, “Ten Years of Cost Containment in Massachusetts: Charting the Path to Affordability and Equity for the Next Decade.” The hearing will focus on the persistent challenges still facing the healthcare system, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and policy solutions to advance affordability and equity in the coming years.
Early voting continues this week in Massachusetts ahead of Election Day on November 8. Find early voting locations and times in your city/town.