Senate Passes Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT) Act

BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed An Act relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT Act), comprehensive pharmaceutical cost control legislation aimed at addressing the high and rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs.  By connecting the need for greater drug price transparency with policies to improve oversight over the pharmaceutical industry, the legislation will put Massachusetts at the forefront of the state’s efforts to tackle increasing drug costs. It will also reduce drug costs to patients and lower health care costs overall.

“This bill will bring us one step closer toward addressing rising costs within our healthcare system that continually impact patients’ ability to access the care they need,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “By reining in prescription drug costs and increasing transparency and oversight within the pharmaceutical industry, we can drive down costs and improve patient outcomes. I want to thank Senate President Spilka and Chair Rodrigues for their hard work and collaboration throughout this process. I look forward to advocating for this important initiative throughout the remainder of this session.”

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Senate Unveils Pharmaceutical Access, Cost and Transparency (PACT) Act

BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled An Act relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Cost and Transparency (PACT Act), comprehensive pharmaceutical cost control legislation aimed at addressing the high and rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs.  By connecting the need for greater drug price transparency with policies to improve oversight over the pharmaceutical industry, the legislation will put Massachusetts at the forefront of state’s efforts to tackle increasing drug costs. It will also reduce drug costs to patients and lower health care costs overall.

“Our goal for health care is to create a system that delivers affordable, high quality and accessible health care to all of our residents,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “We have made significant progress moving the Commonwealth toward this goal, but there is a lot more work that needs to be done. This bill serves as the next step in achieving this goal by providing immediate relief for certain high cost drugs, improving patient access to medications, and enhancing transparency and oversight within the pharmaceutical industry. If we are to reduce the cost of health care overall, we must take meaningful action to reduce the costs of drugs. This bill is the start of that effort.”

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Sen. Friedman and constituent Sameer Sabir testify on bill to promote public safety, help families cope with child deaths

BOSTON – On October 22, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) testified before the Joint Committee on Public Health alongside her constituent Sameer Sabir of Arlington, parent advocate Deborah Eappen, and Dr. Robert Sege in favor of legislation that would promote public safety and certainty related to child deaths. Friedman filed the bill on behalf of Mr. Sabir after hearing about the tragic death of his young child and the strain it caused his family.

“Pediatric deaths are different and more complex than adult deaths, and should be reviewed by a medical examiner with considerable experience,” Friedman explained. “Ensuring that the Chief Medical Examiner determines the cause of death will create a more transparent process and bring a sense of certainty and solace to grieving families experiencing an unimaginable loss. This is a commonsense step we must take to help parents like Mr. Sabir cope with the loss of their child, and I look forward to advocating for this important initiative throughout this session.”

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Restoration Center Commission leaders advocate for funds to support jail-diversion programs

BOSTON – On October 22, State Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D–Arlington), Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, and Dr. Danna Mauch testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue in favor of legislation that would create a permanent fund to help divert individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment. 

“The state has made progress over the last few years to divert individuals with behavioral health conditions away from the criminal justice system and into treatment centers,” said Sen. Friedman (D-Arlington), lead sponsor of the bill. “This trust fund would allow the Commonwealth to continue this effort by supporting effective jail diversion strategies that will bring us one step closer to ending the criminalization of people suffering from an illness. I’m grateful for Sheriff Koutoujian and Danna Mauch for their collaboration and support of this initiative, and I hope it crosses the finish line this session.”

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Friedman Joins Senate Colleagues In Passing 2019 Closeout Budget

BOSTON, MA – On October 24, Senator Cindy Friedman joined her Senate colleagues in passing a $779.8 million closeout supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2019 today, after adding $8.9 million during floor debate. It also includes a transfer of $356 million to the state’s stabilization fund, thereby continuing to build the Commonwealth’s Rainy Day Fund and placing the state on firmer financial footing. At approximately $3.2 billion, the fund would reach its highest level to date.

“This supplemental budget makes necessary investments in education, infrastructure, and strategies to address the negative effects of climate change in our communities,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I want to thank Senate President Spilka and Chairman Rodrigues for a thoughtful, collaborative process that produced a fiscally responsible budget that honors our commitments to the residents of the Commonwealth.”

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Friedman advocates for treatment, not imprisonment

BOSTON – On October 22, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary on legislation she filed that would end the court’s practice of incarcerating a defendant with a substance use disorder whose only infraction during pretrial release or while on probation is a drug relapse. This legislation is part of Friedman’s ongoing effort to address the opioid crisis, end the criminalization of substance use disorder, and decrease recidivism and unnecessary incarceration in the Commonwealth.

“It is both unsafe and unjust to require defendants suffering from substance use disorder to remain relapse-free or else face jail,” said Friedman, a member of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “It is also contrary to all of the scientific research, which tells us that relapses are part of recovery. The passage of this bill is essential step in helping individuals undergo the natural process of recovery and get the treatment they need without the fear of being taken back to a jail cell during pretrial or probation.”

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Friedman votes on “Nicky’s Law” to protect state’s disabled population

BOSTON – Senator Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, joined her colleagues in voting on legislation known as “Nicky’s Law” that would strengthen protections for persons with disabilities.  In an effort to prevent continued caretaker employment for offenders, the bill would direct the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) to establish a registry that identifies individuals who have been found to have committed abuse against persons with disabilities.

“It is unconscionable that we do not have laws on the books to adequately protect disabled persons in Massachusetts who experience harm by their own caretakers,” said Senator Friedman. “The Senate showed its commitment to our state’s disabled population today by passing this important legislation, which would make it much easier to identify abusive caretakers in our communities. This is a commonsense step that will make an enormous impact on our families, friends and neighbors throughout the Commonwealth.”

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Friedman testifies on bill to reduce recidivism among emerging adults

BOSTON – On October 8, Senator Cindy F. Friedman testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in favor of legislation she filed that would help reduce recidivism among youth. The bill, S.940, would require the adult criminal justice system to adopt developmentally-appropriate, evidence-informed policies to ensure positive outcomes for system-involved young adults. 

By amending the adult justice system to account for the developmental needs of emerging adults, Friedman explained, “the Commonwealth can meet its goals of holding young people accountable while fostering rehabilitation, achieving better youth outcomes, increasing safety and reducing the long-term costs associated with a lifetime of justice involvement.”

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Friedman votes on Student Opportunity Act, bill passes unanimously in the Senate

BOSTON – On October 3, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing the Student Opportunity Act, which would invest an unprecedented $1.5 billion in Massachusetts K-12 public education. This legislation would ensure public schools have adequate resources to provide high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. Assuming inflation, over time the bill could provide an estimated $2.2 billion.

“This landmark legislation will benefit every single community in my district by ensuring that each municipality has the resources necessary to provide high quality education to all students,” said Senator Friedman. “I am especially proud that this bill includes two amendments I filed in support of our state’s successful Recovery High School system. I applaud my Senate colleagues for passing such a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes a historic investment in our public education system, and makes a strong effort to increase the educational opportunity for some of the most vulnerable populations in our state.”

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Friedman, police chiefs push for bill to benefit severely injured police officers

BOSTON – On October 1, Senator Cindy F. Friedman testified in support of legislation she filed that would allow severely injured public safety officers who suffer violent and traumatic injuries in the line of duty to be eligible to receive 100% of their benefits.

“It is unconscionable and, frankly, insulting that we force police officers who have suffered a life-altering injury to go through such a burdensome and emotionally straining process to receive the benefits necessary to sustain themselves and their families after such a tragic event,” said Friedman. “I want to thank Chief Kyes, Chief Bongiorno, Bob DeNapoli, and Mario Oliveira for collaborating with our office on this initiative, and for advocating on behalf of police officers across our state. This legislation would appropriately and consistently compensate public safety officers who were injured while protecting our communities. Surely, it is the least we can do.”

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