en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

Sen. Lewis supports passage of bill to make prescription drugs more affordable

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  On February 10, State Senator Jason Lewis joined his Senate colleagues in a bipartisan vote to pass An Act relative to pharmaceutical access, costs and transparency (PACT Act). This comprehensive pharmaceutical legislation is intended to address the rapidly increasing cost of prescription drugs and to ensure life-saving medications are affordable, fairly priced and accessible for all patients who need them.  On February 15, the Massachusetts House of Representatives referred the PACT Act to its Committee on Ways and Means.

  “Working to expand access to quality, affordable healthcare has been a top priority for me because I believe healthcare should be a basic human right,” said Lewis. “While the pharmaceutical and biotech industries are very important to the Massachusetts economy, we also have to ensure that life-saving drugs, like insulin for example, are affordable and accessible, and the PACT Act includes numerous strategies to make this happen.”

  The bill offers immediate price relief for insulin, a life-sustaining daily drug for the one in 10 Massachusetts residents living with diabetes, without which they face substantial health risks and complications. Insulin prices have recently risen sharply, resulting in out-of-pocket costs that can reach $1,000 or more per year for patients in high-deductible plans or who are underinsured. This financial burden often forces patients to engage in the dangerous practice of severely limiting or forgoing the use of insulin. To address this problem, the PACT Act limits out-of-pocket spending on insulin by eliminating deductibles and coinsurance, and permanently capping co-pays at $25 for each 30-day supply.

  The bill includes many other provisions designed to make prescription drugs more affordable for patients and to help control rising healthcare costs:

  • Ensures patients pay the lowest possible price at the pharmacy
  • Ensures pharmacy choice for patients
  • Creates a prescription drug cost assistance trust fund
  • Creates a process for the state Health Policy Commission to identify and address unreasonably highly priced drugs and excessive price increases
  • Requires pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed by the state Division of Insurance
  • Requires drug price notification procedures for manufacturers
  • Requires greater state oversight of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers

  “Our HelpLine takes calls from people across the state who can’t afford their medications. Individuals and families in Massachusetts have been struggling for far too long to access and afford the prescriptions they need, and this legislation provides critical financial relief at a pivotal time,” said Health Care For All Executive Director Amy Rosenthal. “By passing this bill today, Senators took an important step to rein in excessive drug costs, bringing oversight of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers in line with other health care industries in the state.”

  The Senate has been a leader in pursuing policies that improve access to quality, affordable healthcare for Massachusetts residents, including expanding telehealth, strengthening mental health and addiction treatment and tackling high drug costs.

Contact Advocate Newspapers