Senate plan, like the governor’s, aims to further bring down drug costs

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission has long operated in the background of the state’s health care economy, conducting routine check-ups of the costs of care, and monitoring the vital signs of the region’s largest players. But recent policy proposals from both Gov. Charlie Baker and state Senate would give the watchdog agency power to try and influence the cost of prescription drugs, by questioning drug manufacturers and publicly shaming and coercing them into lowering the price of the most expensive products.

“What we will be looking at is what that cost is, and whether that cost is in line with a proposed value,” said State Sen. Cindy Friedman, who co-chairs the Committee on Health Care Financing and helped craft the Senate’s health care proposal unveiled last week. “If the Health Policy Commission finds cost is not in line with proposed value, then the HPC would engage in a process with a manufacturer to reduce that cost.”

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