MassBio Releases Statement on the Health Policy Commission’s 2016 Cost Trends Hearings

Oct 18, 2016

Statement from MassBio President & CEO, Robert K. Coughlin

MassBio and its member organizations are committed to being one piece of a sustainable healthcare system where patients have access to the innovative treatments and therapies they need. That’s why our members companies are investing billions of dollars in the research and development of new scientific techniques, new diagnostics and new drugs to solve some of the world’s most vexing medical challenges.

But we are just one piece of a very complex system in which costs and benefits are negotiated across many players—from providers to insurers to pharmacy benefit managers. It is a system that has not evolved at the speed of scientific innovation, and is not incentivized to think about patients over the entire course of their lives.

The true “cost” of innovative medicines and cures cannot be calculated in a vacuum. Biotechnology has revolutionized the delivery of healthcare and has meaningful impact on both patient well-being and public health.  The cutting-edge therapies and technologies, in some cases being discovered right here in Massachusetts, can also add material value to the healthcare system not necessarily captured through snap-shot cost analyses. Our current system—where insurers project and prepare on very short term horizons—cannot accurately measure the longer term benefits of innovative therapies, including costs avoided through decreased hospitalizations or the societal benefits of increased productivity. Nor in some cases can the system readily absorb innovative treatments and cures that may have higher up-front costs but potentially longer term payoffs.

We as an industry are focused on solutions. We applaud Governor Baker and Attorney General Healey for their thoughtful comments, and for their commitment to finding solutions that balance access and innovation. Our companies have embraced value-based contracting and alternative payment models and in many cases are actively working with Massachusetts insurers to ensure patients are only paying for the value a medicine provides. We continue to advocate for national policy changes to accelerate the approval of generics, the system’s mechanism to lower costs over time. These are dialogues that have the potential to truly move the needle and help shape a healthcare system for today and into the future.

We will continue to work with the HPC, CHIA, legislators, the Baker administration, payers, providers and patients to understand trends across Massachusetts, and to advocate for solutions at the national level that balance sustainability and access for patients. 

See all MassBio News