Specialty Tier Bill Signed Into Law
MS advocates in conjunction with the New England Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs helped enact into law LD 1691, “An act related to specialty tiering in prescription medication pricing.” The bill essentially prohibits the use of fourth or “specialty tiers” for prescription drugs by limiting the total out of pocket expenses to no more than $3,500. Read the full story.
Improving Accessible Transportation Options
The GRC is joining with local and state advocates to explore options to improve accessible transportation including the promotion of accessible transportation options including the expansion of accessible taxis.
MS Day at the Maine Capitol
MS advocates gathered during MS Awareness Week at the State House in Augusta to educate lawmakers about MS and the chapter’s public policy priorities. Event sponsors Representatives Paul Bennett and Susan Morissette and Chapter Trustee Bob Picone spoke eloquently about increasing awareness of the needs of people with MS. A legislative resolution designating MS Day was presented.
MS Home Links Update
The FY13 House and Senate budget line-items 4513-1111 includes language and funding directed at the chapter’s Home LINKS care management program. This marks the twelfth consecutive year of state specific funding for MS.
Governor’s Health Payment Reform Bill
The chapter’s Clinical Advisory Committee and Government Relations Committee submitted comments on the critical health payment reform addressing concerns in the proposed language. The House and Senate versions are nearly finalized and will be sent to the Governor for final approval.
Legislative Priority Updates
Please check the chapter website, under Massachusetts advocacy, for updates on all the priority legislation, because the session ends in June.
Removing the Prescription Drug Coupons prohibition
The legislature is close to reaching a compromise to remove the state prohibition, thus allowing patients to access rebates, coupons, and pharmaceutical assistance programs. Bill language has been added to the House and senate budgets as a result of organizational and consumer efforts.
Accessible Transportation Options/MBTA Changes
The Commission for the Reform of Community, Social Service, and Para-transit Transportation Services, established by Governor Patrick’s Executive Order No. 530 has completed the process of engaging the public through hearings across the Commonwealth, in which the chapter commented. The Commission will issue recommendations this spring. The chapter is also tracking and commenting on proposed changes to regulations pertaining to the MBTA Ride and rider eligibility.
MS Day at the State House
MS advocates gathered at the State House in conjunction with the Governor’s Commission on Disability for an annual event in Concord to educate lawmakers about MS and the chapter’s public policy priorities. Senate President Peter Bragdon sponsored the event.
Medicaid Managed Care
The chapter is closely tracking developments and weighing in with concerns to the state’s new proposed model for managed care. If you are a Medicaid beneficiary with MS and would like to share your experience as a Medicaid beneficiary, please contact Allyssa.Thompson@nmss.org.
The chapter and advocates continue to meet with the Governor’s Commission on Disability and the DMV to tackle barriers to public awareness of parking for people with walking disabilities.
World MS Day Broadcast
Thanks to former State Representative Carol Williams of Manchester for hosting a live-in call in Show on Manchester Public TV in honor of World MS day on May 30.
Next Legislative Session
Do you have policy concerns that should be addressed for people with MS and others with chronic illness and disability? As we plan for the next legislative session we want to hear from you!
Single Payer Coverage Law Implementation
The Vermont GRC continues to closely monitor and track the implementation phase of the landmark bill approved by the legislature last spring.
MS Days at the Vermont Capitol
This spring, staff and MS advocates recognized National MS Awareness Week by hosting a coffee hour at the State House cafeteria, followed by a meeting with the Governor’s office and a recognition on the House floor with accompanying resolution. Staff and advocates also participated in the annual MS Disability Day and the SILC networking breakfast. Staff and volunteers gathered on April 24 at the State House for our annual “MS Day at the Capitol” to meet legislators and distribute new MS booklets with information about MS, the chapter, MS policy issues and Vermont resources. Anyone interested in participating in future events should contact Shanna.McCabe@nmss.org.
Video Links on Disability
The following links are local TV shows focusing on the VT Statewide Independent Living Council and Burlington accessibility, issues of interest to the VT GRC.
Banning Specialty Tiering for Prescription Drugs
Last session MS activists took the lead on an amendment to S.104 to prohibit the insurance industry from issuing “specialty tiers” on prescription drugs, which would result in costly co-pays that are a percentage of the cost of drugs. The final bill approved by the legislature included a one-year moratorium on specialty tiers. This session, Senator Sally Fox, who championed this issue, and Senator Mullen have filed new legislation to remove the moratorium. The language was added to H509 and signed into law by Governor Shumlin. Read the full story.
Public Accessibility in Downtown Burlington
The Vermont GRC is working with community partners and municipal officials to improve accessibility and give consumers a voice in addressing downtown Burlington’s famous Church Street Marketplace. Contact Community Program Coordinator Shanna.McCabe@nmss.org or 1-800-344-4867.
Check out the latest federal news and share your views!
A Little Time Makes a Big Impact! Become an MS activist and make your mark against MS.
- Visit nationalMSsociety.org/get-involved/take-action/index.aspx
- Take Action and sign up to receive federal and state alerts
- Recruit a friend!
Are you a person with MS or have a connection to the disease? Do you have professional expertise in the area of law, medicine, disability, fundraising, policy, or community organizing? Do you have a commitment to working towards achieving short and long-term goals? Are you willing to speak before government officials, at public hearings, or with the media? Are you committed to working as a team and working on projects? If any of these describe you, contact Michelle.Dickson@nmss.org.
New health insurance programs are still offering coverage to uninsured individuals with a pre-existing health condition, including MS. Need assistance understanding this new program or advice about health insurance? Call 1-800-344-4867
Advocacy solutions for issues confronting people with MS require the National MS Society to build and maintain relationships with top community leaders, elected officials, and decision makers who can help us efficiently achieve our goals at the highest point of contact. A “grasstop” volunteer is a person who has a significant level of connection with a local, state or federal legislator or official, an individual serving at a key government agency, or an influential staff person, and is willing to leverage these connections to advance MS priorities. If you are a MS Grasstop, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-693-5140, or fill out our online survey.