Brendan Fitzpatrick

November 15, 2023

State Senate Bill Aims to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Photo courtesy of Alexius Horatius

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Senate has unveiled another version of a bill aiming to lower the cost of prescriptions drugs across the state.

The third iteration of “An Act relative to Pharmaceutical, Access, Cost and Transparency”—or the PACT Act for short—will seek to lower drug prices and increasing access for residents of the Bay State at pharmacies, while also adding more oversight to the state’s healthcare systems.

If passed and signed into law, the “PACT Act 3.0” would cap out-of-pocket costs for medications related to asthma, diabetes, and heart conditions by instituting a cap to co-pays for all insurers, including MassHealth. Insurance providers would be mandated to offer both generic and name-brand options for different types of insulin, while co-pays would not exceed $25 for a 30-day stock of a brand-name drug selected by insurers.

Those proposals were not originally included in the 2019 and 2022 forms of the PACT Act, which both failed to pass in the Massachusetts House of Representatives after being given the green light by the Senate.

“Residents can’t wait for prescription drug relief, especially when lives are at stake,” President of the Massachusetts Senate and Senator for the 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk District Karen Spilka said in a statement.

“This is a bill that will take major steps towards addressing affordability for all our residents, along with increasing access to important life-saving medications.”

Patients would not pay more than a drug’s retail price at pharmacies under the new legislation’s proposals, while residents would have expanded options on where they can pick up their pharmaceutical needs. The bill also stipulates that a process to “identify drugs with high prices that substantially negatively impact patient access,” according to a Senate statement, would be created by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission. Other measures meant to increase transparency on drug prices are included in the bill as well.

The bill would also establish a trust fund that would offer financial aid to residents in low-income communities as well as in communities of color who need prescription drugs. Proponents of the PACT Act 3.0 say this practice would remove barriers to access for those that have been impacted by inequities within the Massachusetts healthcare system.

The PACT Act 3.0 is set to be debated on Beacon Hill this week. Spilka stated that she expects the bill to be passed in the Senate prior to Thanksgiving, adding that her hope is to have a version ready for Governor Maura Healey’s signature before the end of the current legislative session.

The full bill can be found by clicking here.

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