Prescription Drug Pricing Legislation with Sen. Adam Hinds | Connecting Point | Nov. 19, 2019
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Prescription Drug Pricing Legislation with Sen. Adam Hinds | Connecting Point | Nov. 19, 2019


>>>LATE LAST WEEK MEMBERS OF
THE MASSACHUSETTS SENATE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED A LAW THAT
WOULD, AMONG OTHER THINGS, CAP THE COST OF SOME PRESCRIPTION
DRUGS. IT’S A MOVE THAT NOT EVERYONE IS
HAPPY ABOUT. STATE SENATOR ADAM HINDS OF
PITTSFIELD, A MEMBER OF THE HEALTH CARE FINANCING COMMITTEE,
SPOKE WITH ME ABOUT THAT AND MORE AHEAD OF LAWMAKERS’ RECESS,
UNTIL JANUARY.>>IT’S PRETTY SIMPLE. WE’VE SEEN POLLS WHERE 84% OF
RESIDENTS BELIEVE THAT THEY’RE PAYING WAY TOO MUCH FOR
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. WE’VE SEEN NINE OUT OF 10 SAY
THAT CONGRESS NEEDS TO DO MORE TO ADDRESS THE COST OF MEDICINE. AND SO THIS IS SOMETHING WE HEAR
ABOUT EVERY SINGLE DAY, WE KNOW IT’S A BIG PROBLEM, WE KNOW THAT
PEOPLE ARE MAKING UNFORTUNATE CHOICES BETWEEN LIFE SAVING
MEDICINE AND OTHER IMPORTANT COSTS. SO THIS HAS BEEN A DELIBERATE
EFFORT TO SAY WHAT ARE WE DOING TO ADDRESS THE COST DRIVERS
THROUGHOUT THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, BUT IN THIS INSTANCE
PARTICULARLY AROUND PRESCRIPTION MEDICINE.>>AND INSULIN IN PARTICULAR IS
GOING TO HAVE, UNDER THE SENATE BILL, WILL HAVE A NEW CAP OF
$25. WHAT WERE YOU HEARING FROM
PEOPLE SPECIFICALLY AROUND INSULIN?>>RIGHT. HERE’S AN EXAMPLE OF A LIFE
SAVING MEDICINE, IT’S SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO TAKE IF
YOU HAVE DIABETES AND THAT’S 10% OF MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS HAVE
DIABETES. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS EVERY DAY,
AND YET WE’VE SEEN AT THE SAME TIME IT COULD COST $1,000 A YEAR
OUT OF POCKET. SO IT’S REALLY A GOOD EXAMPLE IF
WE WANT TO TACKLE FIRST, TO IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS THE OUT OF
POCKET COSTS, BUT IT’S ALSO BEING USED AS A PILOT TO SAY
WHAT DOES HAPPEN IF THIS STATE PUTS A CAP ON WHAT YOU HAVE TO
PAY AND WHAT YOU CAN PAY ON A MONTH TO MONTH BASES, SO THAT’S
$25 PER MONTH. WE WANT TO SEE, DOES IT HAVE AN
IMPACT ON THE MANUFACTURERS, ON INSURANCE COSTS AND THE LIKE. FOR OTHERS WHO ARE NOT USING
INSULIN. SO IT’S A GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW
THIS BILL, IF IT DOES FINALLY GET THROUGH THE HOUSE AND THE
GOVERNOR, COULD HAVE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT ON PEOPLE’S
POCKETS.>>I KNOW ANOTHER PIECE THAT
PEOPLE WERE SHARING WAS THE FACT THAT WHEN YOU GET TO THE
PHARMACY IF YOU’RE PICKING UP A MEDICATION YOU WILL BE REQUIRED
BY LAW TO BE SHOWN THE ALTERNATIVES THAT MIGHT BE LESS
EXPENSIVE THAN THE ONE YOU WERE PRESCRIBED OR THE PHARMACIST
FILLED. I KNOW THIS IS A PROBLEM MY
MOTHER RAN INTO WITH MY GRANDMOTHER, A DRUG THAT SHE WAS
PAYING HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FOR EVERY MONTH AND THE BILL WAS CUT
DOWN TO $3 OR A DOLLAR FOR THE SAME EXACT TYPE OF DRUG. WERE YOU HEARING SIMILAR STORIES
FROM PEOPLE?>>YES. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF ELEMENTS,
ONE IS THAT THE PHARMACISTS NOW HAVE ASSAY ALSO, YOUR COPAY IS
THIS AMOUNT, BUT THE DRUG IS THIS AMOUNT, WHY DON’T YOU PAY
FOR IT DIRECTLY, SO THAT’S THE CLARITY OF FAIRNESS IN PRICING
THAT WE’RE GOING AFTER. SO NOW THAT WOULD BECOME THE LAW
IF THIS WERE TO PASS.>>THERE ARE OPPONENTS, AMONG
THEM THE MASSACHUSETTS BIOTECHNOLOGY COUNCIL AND
THEY’RE CONCERNED THAT THE LEGISLATION WASN’T LOOKING AT
THE RIGHT THING. THEY WANTED THE LEGISLATURE TO
FOCUS ON OUT OF POCKET COSTS, WHICH THE STATE HOUSE NEWS
REPORTED THAT TOTAL HEALTH CARE EXPENDITURES IN MASSACHUSETTS
HIT $69.9 BILLION. 69.9 BILLION IN 2018. IS THE BIOTECHNOLOGY COUNCIL
RIGHT, SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON THAT INSTEAD?>>WELL, THERE ARE A COUPLE OF
ELEMENTS. THERE’S ANOTHER PIECE OF THIS
BILL WHICH SAYS WE NEED TRANSPARENCY, WE GET CAUGHT OFF
GUARD TOO OFTEN AND REALLY HIGH COSTS, DRUGS WILL COME ON THE
MARKET. AND DRUGS THAT WILL, THEY FIT A
COUPLE OF CATEGORIES OF CONCERN FOR US, ONE IS THAT THEY MIGHT
BE EXPENSIVE AND CRITICAL. SO FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH
PERSPECTIVE IF PEOPLE ARE NOT GETTING ACCESS TO THEM, THAT’S A
DEEP CONCERN FOR ALL OF US. SO A THIRD ELEMENT TO THIS WAS
THAT THE HEALTH POLICY COMMISSION CAN ESSENTIALLY
ENGAGE WITH THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES AND SAY WE THINK FROM
OUR E ESTIMATION THAT THAT IS TOO HIGH OF A COST, AND LET’S GO
ENGAGE IN A MECHANISM FOR TRYING TO REDUCE THAT. THAT’S ALL CONFIDENTIAL, THAT
PROCESS. BUT THEY COULD, IF THEY REFUSE,
IF THE PHARMACEUTICALS REFUSE TO ENGAGE IN THAT, THEN WE COULD
TAKE IT TO A PUBLIC PROCESS WHERE THEY REALLY HAVE TO MAKE
THEIR CASE. BECAUSE IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, YOU,
WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE COST OF DRUGS ARE GETTING WAY TOO HIGH,
BUT WE HAVE NO REASON TO UNDERSTAND WHY. IT’S BEHIND A CLOAK. SO THIS IS AN EFFORTS TO TRY TO
BRING MORE TRANSPARENCY TO THE WHOLE INDUSTRY.>>WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE COST
OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS HERE, BUT THAT’S NOT THE ONLY OUT OF
POCKET COST, SOMETIMES THERE’S SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLING THAT
WE’RE HEARING A LOT ABOUT. OR THERE ARE OTHER COSTS THAT
YOU THINK I HAVE INSURANCE, I HAVE GONE TO MY DOCTOR, WHICH
WAS IN NETWORK AND NOW I’M STILL GETTING A BILL.>>YES.>>WHAT DO YOU DO AROUND THOSE
CHALLENGES?>>WE ARE GOING TO TAKE UP THE
SECOND HEALTH CARE ACT, IF YOU REMEMBER LAST TERM WE TOOK UP
THE HEALTH ACT IN THE SENATE AND IT DIDN’T MOVE FURTHER FOR A
NUMBER OF REASONS, SO THAT WILL BE A FOCUS IN MOVING FORWARD. WE HAVE BEEN TAKING A LOT SWIPES
AT THIS, IN THE BUDGET WE ALSO TOOK ANOTHER EFFORT TO SAY THAT
CAN WE REDUCE COSTS BY DOING ESSENTIALLY EXPAND OUR REBATE
PROGRAM, SO THAT’S ANOTHER EFFORT THAT SAYS, OKAY, AT LEAST
WE CAN LOWER THE COST THAT THE STATE PAYS FOR IT A LATEST OF
THESE. SO THAT’S THROUGH MEDICAID. BUT ULTIMATELY WE REALLY WANT TO
GET OUT THE UNDERLYING COSTS WITHIN THE PHARMACIES AND BE
CLEAR, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT’S NECESSARY OR NOT.>>AS YOU WELL KNOW, THE
NOVEMBER 20TH BREAK FOR THE LEGISLATURE IS FAST APPROACHING.>>UNFORTUNATELY.>>BUSY TIMES. HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING THAT IN
YOUR MIND, WHAT’S THE ONE THING THAT YOU REALLY THINK THAT NEEDS
TO GET DONE BY THAT DEADLINE?>>CAN I SAY TWO THINGS?>>SURE.>>WE HAVE A CLOSE OUT BUDGET,
SO A BILLION DOLLAR SURPLUS FROM LAST FISCAL YEAR AND THERE ARE A
RANGE OF CRITICAL ELEMENTS THAT ARE IN THAT, THAT’S IN
CONFERENCE AND IT HASN’T GOTTEN ACROSS THE FINISH LINE. SO I’D REALLY LIKE TO SEE THAT.>>STATE HOUSE NEWS NOW PROJECTS
THAT A MILLION DOLLARS WILL BE LOST BECAUSE THE LEGISLATURE HAS
NOT HAD THAT MONEY, ALL TIED UP AND FINISHED TO COLLECT
INTEREST.>>THERE’S A LOT IN THERE THAT
CAN WAIT, IT’S OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE RAINY DAY FUND THAT WILL
TAKE IT UP TO OVER 3 BILLION. BUT THERE ARE OTHER CRITICAL
ELEMENTS, SO WE ALL HAVE OUR EYES ON THAT. THE OTHER ONE IS THE STUDENT
OPPORTUNITY ACT, SO THE S $.4 BILLION —
1.4 BILLION INVESTMENT IN K THROUGH 12 SCHOOLS, WIELD LIKE
TO SEE THAT GET OVER THE FINISH LINE AS WELL. WE HAVE THE MOMENTUM, WE WON’T
COME BACK UNTIL THE NEW YEAR. SO THIS IS REALLY AN
OPPORTUNITY, I THINK, TO GET THERE WHILE WE’RE CLOSE, AND WE
ARE CLOSE.>>DO YOU THINK THIS IS AN
OPPORTUNITY OR REQUIRES THAT LEADERSHIP AT THE HOUSE AND
SENATE LEVEL REALLY LOOK AT HOW LEGISLATION IS TAKEN UP, HOW THE
CALENDAR IS PLANNED? BECAUSE SEEMS LIKE HERE WE ARE
YET AGAIN RACING TOWARD THE FINISH WITH A LOT OF UNFINISHED
BUSINESS.>>YES
THE GOOD NEWS IS THIS ISN’T THE END OF THE SESSION, IT’S JUST
THE YEAR. SO THAT THE SESSION ENDS IN JUM. SO THAT —
ENDS IN JULY. THAT WILL BE THE CRITICAL
DEADLINE. RIGHT NOW I THINK TO SOME DEGREE
WE FEEL LIKE THIS HAS BEEN A RELATIVELY PRODUCTIVE YEAR AND
THE FACT THAT WE CAN BE THIS CLOSE ON SUCH A BIG INITIATIVE
LIKE THE SCHOOL OPPORTUNITY ACT, WE’RE IN A GOOD SPOT, BUT WE
REALLY DO NEED TO MOVE QUICKLY BECAUSE WE’RE TALKING MANY OF
OUR SCHOOLS WILL BE RECEIVING>>YEAR SEVEN TENS OF MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS MORE THAN THEY ARE RIGHT NOW AND JUST FINALIZING
THAT IS IMPORTANT.>>RELATIVELY PRODUCTIVE YEAR,
DO YOU REAL THINK THAT? BECAUSE MY COLLEAGUE AT WGBH
LOOKED AT AND IT WHEN YOU TAKE AWAY LIQUOR LICENSE OR HYPER
LOCAL BILLS AND LAWS THAT HAVE BEEN PASSED, 21 LAWS HAVE BEEN
PASSED. AS OF THE END OF OCTOBER.>>YEAH. I THINK THERE’S A NATURAL PSYCH
TOMORROW THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, IT’S A TWO-YEAR
SESSION. JUST IN MY COMMITTEE, I’M THE
CHAIR OF REVENUE AND WE HAD OVER 500 BILLS AND IT WAS JUST THE
LAST WEEK THAT WE FINISHED ALL OUR HEARINGS FOR THOSE. SO THERE IS A NATURAL COURSE A
THOUGH DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE ON THE BILLS IN FRONT OF US, BUT IT
IS IRONIC THAT WE’RE GOING TO BE IN DECEMBER THINKING ABOUT OUR
CONSENSUS REVENUE PICTURE TO START UP THE BUDGET AGAIN FOR
NEXT YEAR. SO WE’RE MOVING RIGHT ALONG
ALREADY INTO NEXT YEAR AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN FINISHED THIS ONE
YET.>>ONE BIT OF NATIONAL NEWS I
WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT. YOU MAY HAVE HEARD, FORMER
MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK TOSSED IN HIS HAT FOR A
PRESIDENTIAL BID FOR THE DEMOCRATS AHEAD OF 2020 HERE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT NEWS,
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE FORMER GOVERNOR GETTING INTO THE RACE?>>WELL, I GUESS I’M AN EXAMPLE
OF THE CHALLENGE HE MIGHT FACE. I’VE BEEN INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE
OF GOVERNOR PATRICK AND IN FACT HE HAS A HOUSE IN MY DISTRICT,
SO WE SEE EACH OTHER QUITE A BIT. SO A YEAR AGO IT WAS A VERY
DIFFERENT CONVERSATION THAT I WAS HAVING WITH HIM. SINCE THEN I’VE GONE ON AND
ENDORSED SENATOR WARREN. SO THAT’S MART OF ONE OF THE
DYNAMICS THAT HE’LL BE FACING IS THAT THE FIELD IN THE RACE HAS
MOVED QUITE A BIT IN THE LAST YEAR. SO THAT SPEAKS A LITTLE BIT TO
THE, WHEN YOU’RE BEHIND THE PACK IN TERMS OF FUND RAISING AND
GETTING STAFF IN IOWA, AND HE DOES STAND WELL IN TERMS OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE AND SOUTH CAROLINA, SO HE CAN PROBABLY ABSORB NOT
HAVING THAT LEVEL OF STAFF BECAUSE OF FAMILIARITY,
PARTICULARLY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. BUT I’M NOT GOING TO SAY A BAD
WORD ABOUT HIM. HE’S BEEN AMAZING, SO I WISH HIM
ALL THE LUCK.

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