January 22, 2020
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Keep your finger on the pulse of the most critical issues facing the industry, our Members and Patients with BioNJ's bi-weekly Public Policy Update .

Because Patients Can't Wait ®
BioNJ is honored to announce that  Senate President Steve Sweeney will address the industry at BioNJ's 27th Annual Dinner Meeting and Innovation Celebration on February 6, 2020 at the Hilton East Brunswick.

Senate President Sweeney will help to kickoff the dinner program which will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. Register today and plan to join us as we honor New Jersey's Innovators and the Patients who inspire them.  Click here for details!
Out-of-Pocket Legislation Signed into Law
Governor Murphy has signed signed A-2431 into law. A-2431 requires insurers to offer plans that limit prescription cost-sharing for Patients. 

“Addressing the costs that Patients pay at the pharmacy counter is a key facet of any effort to reduce the cost of prescription treatments,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart. “To that end, Governor Murphy has signed into law A-2431, legislation that would provide the potential for meaningful relief to Patients by providing cost certainty for Patients with chronic conditions who require medications. Most importantly, A-2431 would improve Patient access to life saving treatments.” 

BioNJ believes that Patients should have access to the right treatment at the right time. A-2431 would help achieve this important goal. 

Thank you to Governor Murphy, Assemblyman Dan Benson, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senate Republican Leader Thomas H. Kean, Jr., and the other cosponsors of this important legislation for putting Patients first. We look forward to working with our policymakers in 2020 to promote policies that enhance both Patient access and innovation.  
Murphy Delivers State of the State
Governor Phil Murphy addressed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature during his January 14 State of the State address. Murphy laid out his 2020 priorities, including the creation of a State Office of Health Care Accountability and Transparency in the Governor’s Office. The new Office will work with the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) for data-driven analysis of actual consumer health care costs, improving transparency and affordability in the State’s health system. See BioNJ’s January 16 Public Policy Alert for additional details on the State of the State speech.  
Lame Duck Session Concludes, Legislature Reorganizes 
January 14 marked the reorganization of the New Jersey Legislature for its next legislative session. But first the post-lame duck session concluded with movement in several areas concerning the life sciences sector. Several legislative initiatives moved forward with either a pro-Patient or life sciences focus: 

  • A-3040/S974, legislation requiring that newborn infants be screened for spinal muscular atrophy, was sent to the Governor’s desk with all voting legislators supporting the bill. Governor Murphy signed this legislation into law on January 21. 

  • A-5037, legislation to enhance penalties for counterfeit drugs, was passed unanimously through both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Murphy. The legislation not only enhances penalties for drug counterfeiting, but also bars individuals and companies convicted of violating the bill’s provisions from doing business with New Jersey State entities. 

Meanwhile, the lame duck session concluded with several outstanding issues. An effort to increase vaccination rates among school-age children did not attain the necessary votes for passage. And the State remains without a successor to the Grow NJ program – now expired for more than six months. 

The Legislature also held nomination hearings for several Murphy Administration appointees, including Acting Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli. Persichilli began her tenure as acting Commissioner in 2019 and was confirmed by the New Jersey Senate late in the lame duck session. BioNJ looks forward to working with Commissioner Persichilli. 

Finally, the Legislature convened for its 219 th session and reorganization. The 219 th session will feature seven new members of the General Assembly with Assemblyman Craig Coughlin continuing to serve as the Speaker of the General Assembly. The General Assembly partisan breakdown is currently 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans. Meanwhile, Senator Mike Testa, the winner of a special election in the LD-1 contest to complete the term of Congressman Jeff Van Drew, was sworn into office on December 5, 2019. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney will continue his position as Senate President for a record sixth term. 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans serve in the New Jersey Senate. 

BioNJ congratulates all members of the New Jersey Legislature, and we look forward to working on behalf of both Patients and innovation during the next two years.  
Governor Murphy: Opioid Deaths Decline
Governor Murphy announced preliminary year-end 2019 opioid statistics for New Jersey. 2019 data shows a 3 percent decrease in opioid deaths in New Jersey from 2018. Statewide opioid prescriptions overall decreased by 6 percent in 2019.  
Task Force Releases Incentives Report
Governor Murphy’s Task Force on EDA’s Tax Incentives has released a second report on Grow NJ and other tax incentive programs. The Task Force released its first report in June 2019. The second report further details its investigation of the NJEDA’s oversight of incentive programs and offers eight additional recommendations to supplement the nine recommendations offered in the June 2019 report.    
Smith Named to Lead Innovation Center
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation – or the Innovation Center – has a new leader. The Innovation Center was created as part of the Affordable Care Act to allow for models and demonstration projects testing new models of care. In recent years, the Innovation Center has been used for more wide-ranging, often times mandatory “tests,” such as 2018’s International Pricing Index Proposal. Brad Smith, formerly the Chief Operating Officer of Anthem’s Diversified Business Group and the co-founder and CEO of Aspire Health, was tapped by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to helm the Innovation Center.  
Study: Cancer Death Rate Has Dropped Nearly 30 Percent
The cancer death rates continues to plummet. A newly released study from the American Cancer Society (ACS) shows that the death rate from cancer in the United States fell 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017 – the largest drop in a single year. Overall, the cancer death rate has declined by 29 percent from 1991 to 2017. New Jersey’s biopharma sector has been a major contributor in the research and development of many groundbreaking cancer therapies. 
GAO: Additional 340B Oversight Needed
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report with recommendations on improving oversight of the federal 340B Drug Discount Program. 340B was created in 1992 to provide discounts on outpatient prescriptions to covered entities serving Patients in need. The report found that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has insufficient processes in place to verify whether non-governmental hospitals meet the program’s eligibility requirements. As a result, the report concludes that some entities may receive drug discounts that may not be eligible for the 340B program. The report also offers six recommendations for improved HRSA oversight of the program.  
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