The Republican governor of Massachusetts and the Democratic governor of Connecticut are bipartisan cross-border allies in an attempt to control the rising costs of prescription drugs.
Governor Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Gov. Ned Lamont in Connecticut have filed similar legislation to cap annual price hikes for prescription drugs and they promoted each other’s efforts in a joint press conference Tuesday.
Both the proposals would limit annual price hikes for most prescription medicines to the rate of inflation plus 2 percent. Drug makers that exceed the price cap would be required to pay a penalty.
In Massachusetts, Baker filed the legislation as part of his proposed state budget that is currently before the legislature.
"Far too often there are very significant increases in the price of critical drugs that ultimately harm patients who rely on these treatments and increase costs to the system at large," Baker said.
The bill filed by Lamont has been reported out of committee in the Connecticut legislature.
"This is a very thoughtful bill that makes good sense," Lamont said.
The pharmaceutical industry has long argued that government cost controls would harm research and development. The biosciences are large employers in both states.
"The vast majority of the products that get sold every single day have been on the market for years -- in many cases decades -- and why there would be this issue and problem continuing year after year after year with these products seeing very signifcant increases in their list prices that go way beyond anything that looks like inflation flys in the face of what I would call common sense," Baker said.
Baker initially filed a proposal in the previous legislative session.
Lamont, a Democrat, said he and Baker, a Republican began discussing ideas for controlling rising drug costs shortly after he was elected in 2018.
"I think Massachusetts has really taken the lead on this," Lamont said. "I am happy to have Charlie take the lead on this and work together. I think together we can make a difference and show the country how we can make drug pricing a lot more predictable for those who need it."
Joining the governors in the virtual press conference were two people with chronic illnesses that require very expensive prescription treatments. Karolina Chorvath is a Boston resident who has Crohn’s disease.
"And I am a privaleged White woman with health insurance that allows me to afford my medications, but I still live in fear of losing that insurance coverage or my medications disappearing," she said.
Jay Gironimi is a Groton, Connecticut resident who has Cystic Fibrosis and said he requires 10-12 medications daily in order to breathe and eat.
"The ever-rising prices of these medications terrify me," he said.
In Massachusetts, the proposed penalties drug manufacturers could pay for violating the price increase limits would be directed to a fund for community health centers. In Connecticut it would subsidize health insurance.