On July 13, Representative Christine P. Barber (D-Somerville and Medford) testified in support of Bill H.729, which she introduced to make prescription drugs more affordable for families by creating a drug program. ” cost assistance for some chronic disease drugs, and increased accountability for prescription drug prices
Rising prescription drug prices are straining families’ budgets. A 2019 study showed that one in four Massachusetts residents went without medically necessary prescription drugs because of their high costs, leading to rationing or cutting back on pills and, ultimately, a deterioration in health. health of many residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has further strained the ability of people to afford their medications and treatments, though, now more than ever, it’s critical that residents across the state can pay for their prescriptions and medications. health care.
Prescription drugs are the fastest growing costs in the state health care system. In Massachusetts, pharmaceutical spending continues to rise, outpacing other health care spending. According to the 2019 report from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), pharmaceutical spending rose 5.8%, while overall health care spending rose only 3.1% .
Representative Barber’s Bill H.729 would make prescription drugs more affordable by implementing cost assistance programs for certain drugs, such as insulin and asthma inhalers, used to treat illnesses chronic diseases that disproportionately affect people of color and are also risk factors for increased COVID-19 complications. The bill would also help reduce the cost of unreasonably expensive drugs by allowing the State Health Policy Commission to conduct affordability reviews of certain drugs and regulate drug benefit managers. , which derive revenue from discounts with the drug manufacturer, regardless of what the consumer is paying for. The bill would also improve the ability of pharmacists to advise patients whether purchasing a drug at retail without insurance would be cheaper.
“Prescription drugs cure disease, manage chronic disease, and not only improve quality of life, but save the lives of many patients, a fact even more clearly understood since the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Representative Barber . “The goal of this bill is to make prescription drugs affordable and accessible by increasing pricing information, empowering the pharmaceutical industry and ensuring families see the benefits.”
The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing heard testimony in favor of H.729 from lawmakers, public health professionals, health care providers and consumers during the July 13 hearing. Several patients testified at the hearing about the difficulties they had in paying for their medications.
Representative Barber’s bill is supported by a growing coalition of organizations including Health Care For All, Boston Center for Independent Living, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Senior Action Council, Disability Policy Consortium, MASSPIRG, 1199SEIU, Health Law Advocates, Atrius Health and Massachusetts Association for Mental Health.
Please contact the Barber Representative Office (617-722-2220 or [email protected]) to get involved in the campaign or share your story on the challenges of buying prescription drugs.
– Office of Representative Christine Barber