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Friedman reviews '23, touts drug-cost effort

State Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) reviews 2023, sharing an end-of-year update, which she describes as "full of exciting new information and a fun recap of district events I participated in throughout the year." 

Cindy FriedmanLegislative News : Beginning Nov. 16, the Legislature entered a mandated recess, during which only informal sessions of the House and Senate may be held. Before this recess, I’m proud to share that the Senate passed the PACT Act 3.0 (An Act relative to pharmaceutical access, costs, and transparency), comprehensive pharmaceutical cost containment and oversight legislation that I sponsored.

This is the third consecutive legislative session that the Senate has passed an iteration of the PACT Act, making a strong statement that Massachusetts is not giving up on our work to rein in the cost of prescription drugs. I have a press release on my website that goes into more detail, but below are some key highlights of the bill: 

  • Provides immediate cost relief for certain drugs to treat conditions such as diabetes, asthma and three of the most prevalent heart conditions that disproportionately impact a particular demographic group, including people of color; 
  • Ensures that prescription drug price information is part of the annual hearing process on health-care cost trends so that we can hold drug manufacturers accountable when they set excessive prices for drugs; 
  • Creates a licensing process for pharmacy benefit managers to increase transparency and oversight of these companies, which negotiate drug prices and benefits; and
  • Expands pharmacy networks to improve access for consumers.

This bill will begin to provide transparency into often opaque industry practices to protect Massachusetts residents from burdensome drug price increases. The PACT Act 3.0 now awaits action in the House of Representatives. You can visit this page on my website to learn more about the bill. 

Another piece of legislation that moved recently was the fiscal 2023 closeout supplemental budget, which passed the House and Senate on Dec. 4, and was signed into law that day by Gov. Healey. In addition to closing the books on fiscal '23, this supplemental budget met our obligation to state workers by authorizing agreed-upon raises from contracts made with state employee collective bargaining units.

Additionally, this legislation provided substantial funding and policy updates to help our state manage and coordinate the increase in migrant families, including direct funding for local municipalities, like ours in the 4th Middlesex district, that are housing these families. With the colder weather upon us, the improved planning and increased resources this budget provides will be crucial in meeting the needs of these families, and I’m thankful that we were able to pass it into law expeditiously. You can view more details about the supplemental budget in this press release

The Legislature will reconvene formal sessions on Jan. 2, 2024. 

Community events 

There have been a lot of great events in the 4th Middlesex district throughout the year. Take a look at some photo highlights from recent events with constituents and from earlier in 2023 below. I hope I get a chance to see you in the community in 2024.

Friedman eventsFriedman eventsFriedman eventsFriedman eventsFriedman events

I’m also looking forward to joining Samantha Stone on Today in Woburn on WPMC at the end of January. Stay tuned for that episode, which will be shared on YouTube!

Recognizing volunteers

I want to take a moment and acknowledge with deep, deep gratitude the work of the volunteers in our district who have welcomed and supported families seeking asylum from violence and upheaval in their native countries and who have been living in temporary shelter throughout the 4th Middlesex district. You have been beyond generous with your time, support, and concern. You have shown what it truly means to take care of your neighbors regardless of who they are or where they come from. And thank you to our town and school officials who have worked with great determination to include and support the children who have come here with their parents in a journey to a better life. This was all unexpected and yet you all rose to the occasion. I am so sincerely proud of all the residents in my district for your efforts and so grateful to be part of this community. 

Looking ahead to 2024, the Legislature has many priorities that we hope to get signed into law by the end of formal sessions on July 31. In addition to the PACT Act, I would love to see continued work to move legislation addressing the need for more affordable housing, gaps in the workforce, deteriorating public transportation infrastructure, safety, climate, and more. I invite you to keep up with the latest news and information on my website and active social media channels. You’ll see that I joined Senate President Karen Spilka in leaving the platform X. All of us must stand up to hate and bigotry of all kinds when we see it. This is clearly not the ethos of those who oversee X, so I can no longer justify using the platform, but I am active on different social media channels. 

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a very happy, safe and peaceful New Year. 

Cindy Friedman

To stay up-to-date on all that I'm doing on behalf of the 4th Middlesex and the Commonwealth, please visit my website and check out my legislative profile on the Massachusetts Legislature website. You can also connect with me on FacebookThreads, and Instagram.

P.S. Please forward this message to friends, family and members of our community who may be interested in hearing about this news. They can sign up for my email list to receive future news and updates from the State House and our district

This column of news and opinion from state Sen. Cindy Friedman was published Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.

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