For Immediate Release:
November 16, 2023
MA Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition Commends Senate Passage of Rx Cost Reform; Urges Swift Legislative Action
MA Senate passed An Act relative to pharmaceutical access, costs and transparency (S.2499) Wednesday
BOSTON – In response to the passage of An Act relative to pharmaceutical access, costs and transparency (S.2499) in the Massachusetts State Senate last night, the Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition issued the following statement:
We are pleased the Massachusetts State Senate has passed this critical piece of legislation that will help make our health care system more equitable, reduce life-saving prescription drug prices and improve access to care for all members of our communities.
“This legislation would provide direct relief to help people afford necessary medications for diabetes, asthma and heart conditions, while tackling the underlying problem of rapidly rising prescription drug prices,” said Health Care For All Executive Director Amy Rosenthal. “This will bring much needed transparency and accountability to the drug industry through the state’s cost trends process.”
Massachusetts successfully passed reforms in 2019 which have yielded savings of over $300 million for the state’s Medicaid program. This legislation would build on this success by extending a similar policy to those with private insurance. The bill would bring the pharmaceutical industry in line with the cost containment measures that apply to other health care industries in the state, including hospitals and insurers. It authorizes the Health Policy Commission to review the cost of certain prescription drugs to ensure they are affordable and engage manufacturers in lowering costs if prices are found to be unreasonable or excessive.
“We have been making the case for years that Massachusetts can achieve lower prescription drug prices while also protecting the rights of disabled and chronically ill patients,” said Colin Killick, executive director, Disability Policy Consortium. “We’re very happy to say that the PACT Act will do just that.”
“Patients risk serious medical complications or death because of financial barriers to life-saving medications – we cannot tolerate the status quo,” Massachusetts Medical Society President Dr. Barbara S. Spivak said. “Our health care system allows drug companies to set and raise drug prices with impunity, with no transparency or accountability, and our patients suffer as a result when they cannot afford their medications and receive necessary care. These affordability challenges disproportionately impact patients of color and those with disabilities, who have higher rates of chronic illness, furthering disparities in health outcomes. We applaud the Senate’s passage of PACT Act, which is a critical step toward righting an unconscionable wrong and ensuring our patients have access to quality, affordable care.”
“Tackling the issue of skyrocketing prescription drug prices not only helps those of us who need to take medication, the reforms in the bill will help rein in rising health care costs as drug spending is a leading driver of health care spending in Massachusetts,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director, MASSPIRG.
The legislation would also eliminate or reduce co-pays for certain medications for three chronic conditions – diabetes, asthma, and heart conditions – that disproportionately impact people of color and low-income communities. This proposal has the potential to provide financial relief and increase access to critical care for individuals and families across the Commonwealth while taking steps to make our system more equitable.
Massachusetts families have carried the burden of high prescription drug prices for too long with nearly one in four residents not filling prescriptions, cutting pills, or skipping doses because they can’t afford them – they need relief now. We are grateful to Senate President Karen Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and Vice-Chair Senator Cindy Friedman, for their leadership and we look forward to working with leaders in the House to address this critical issue and provide relief to Massachusetts families from rising drug costs.”
Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition:
The coalition supporting S.2499 represents a wide range of stakeholders, including consumer advocates, seniors, children, individuals with disabilities, faith-based groups, providers, provider groups, unions, mental health organizations, and health policy experts. Coalition members include:
1199SEIU, Authentic Caribbean Foundation Inc., Boston Center for Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium, Health Care For All, Health Law Advocates, Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Senior Action Council, and MASSPIRG