THE LIFE SCIENCES PENNSYLVANIA
2021 ANNUAL REPORT
QUARTER 4 ADVOCACY UPDATES
Redistricting in Pennsylvania
After months of discussion, Pennsylvania lawmakers formally began the process of state and federal legislative redistricting. This process has been challenging for several reasons. First, due to the pandemic, lawmakers were battling census delays forcing them to receive the necessary data months later than usual. A second significant challenge is that Pennsylvania is losing one seat in the U.S. House because its population grew at a slower rate relative to other states. That means the 18 current districts must be drawn into 17, each having roughly 764,865 residents. Congressional redistricting occurs legislatively, meaning a bill proceeds through both chambers of the General Assembly and is signed into law by the Governor.
In the Pennsylvania General Assembly legislative maps are drawn by a commission – the Legislative Reapportionment Commission – made up of the leaders of all four caucuses: Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton (D- Philadelphia) and a non-legislative tiebreaker - Mark Nordenberg, the former Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh.
The Department of State has instructed lawmakers to finalize their maps by January 24 to allow enough time for candidates to circulate nominating petitions ahead of the 2022 primary on May 17. The legislature plans to give Pennsylvanians most of December to make public comments. Lawmakers will hold formal hearings, adjust the maps, and will likely vote on them in January however it would not be surprising for these decisions to ultimately end up with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Legislative Leadership Meeting with Representative Joanna McClinton
Life Sciences PA was pleased to host State Representative Joanna McClinton October 28 as part of its Legislative Leaders series. This series helps connect Life Sciences PA’s State Policy Committee members with leaders in Harrisburg amid a pandemic. Rep. McClinton represents parts of Delaware and Philadelphia counties and is the House Democratic Leader. This was a wonderful opportunity to provide Leader McClinton with a overview of Pennsylvania’s life sciences ecosystem, and avail Life Sciences PA and our members as a resource to her and her office as the legislature discusses policies affecting our member organizations.
Smith+Nephew Ribbon Cutting
Smith+Nephew held a ribbon cutting ceremony October 29 in Pittsburgh at its new R&D and medical education training facility for robotics. Life Sciences PA, and its President and CEO, Christopher P. Molineaux, were honored to served as the master of ceremonies for the ribbon cutting ceremony that included U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle, PA DCED Secretary Dennis Davin, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and several other state and local elected officials. This event was an exciting recognition of Smith+Nephew’s commitment to growth and expansion in Pittsburgh.
Annual LSPA Patient Summit
Life Sciences PA hosted its annual Patient Summit November 12. This year’s event focused on issues affecting patient access throughout the Commonwealth and helped provide guidance on how the life sciences industry can better work in partnership with patients and their families to support important health policies. We’d like to thank the many legislators that attended, including many of our Life Science Caucus Co-Chairs, such as Senator Bob Mensh and Senator Art Haywood, both of whom participated in panel discussions.
Life Sciences PA works closely with more than 50 patient groups, ranging in both size and mission. While some of these groups have the resources to dedicate staff to advocacy and policy efforts, many do not, and this event can be a helpful tool for their efforts. Our goal through this event is to empower all patient groups, large and small, to effectively share their stories and gain the knowledge around the legislative process to influence change. We have the additional goal of educating and informing our legislators on issues affecting patient groups, and how they too can effectively work with patients and their families to provide better outcomes throughout the Commonwealth.
Build Back Better Act and Drug Pricing
The U.S. House passed the Build Back Better Act November 19. This massive package of health, social and environmental programs was the focus of the Biden Administration and Congressional Democratic leadership for the second half of 2021. However, shortly before the new year, Senator Manchin (D-WV) indicated he would not support the bill bringing its progress to a halt.
Though it continues to be stalled, Life Sciences PA has significant concerns about how this legislation, which can be viewed HERE, purports to lower drug prices by utilizing government “negotiation” – which amounts to little more than government price setting – to undermine patient access to novel therapies and cures. The bill passed along a largely party line vote.
All Democratic legislators in the Pennsylvania delegation voted in favor of the bill and all Republican legislators in the Pennsylvania delegation opposed it, except for Congressman Scott Perry who remained quarantined after contracting COVID-19.
More information on the policies germane to our members can be found in our statement upon House passage of the bill (need hyperlink, but I think it’s already on the website).
After hearing concerns from many of our member companies – particularly our medical technology members – about a shortage in semiconductor chips Life Sciences PA partnered with Biocom California to lead a state association letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The letter, which can be found HERE, is signed by 21 associations. It urges the Administration to consider the mission critical role of the medical and life sciences sectors, especially amid a global pandemic, as the Administration works to address the global shortage of semiconductors.
Congresswoman Scanlon Attends LSF-BioPharm Reception
Life Sciences PA was pleased to host Congresswoman Scanlon October 5 at its reception to kickoff the 2021 Life Sciences Future – BioPharm conference. The reception acknowledged the achievements and growth of the cell and gene therapy sector in Pennsylvania. Congresswoman Scanlon was able to meet with many leaders in Pennsylvania’s life sciences community and hear directly from constituents on the importance of incentivizing research, development and manufacturing of novel medicines and technologies.
CURES 2.0 Legislation
Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced “21st Century Cures 2.0” November 16. This legislation builds off the 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016. Among many provisions, the bill includes the PASTEUR Act to incentivize anti-microbial research and development, a version of the Medicare Coverage for Innovative Technologies (MCIT) payment pathway, the RISE Act, and $6.5 billion for the ARPA-H program. A press release on the legislation can be found HERE.
Robert Califf Nomination
President Biden announced November 12 his nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert M. Califf. Dr. Califf, a recognized expert in clinical trial research, previously served as the FDA Commissioner during the Obama Administration from 2016-2017. It appears unlikely Dr. Califf will be confirmed by a full Senate floor vote until early 2022. More on the White House nomination of Dr. Califf can be found HERE.
As was anticipated the Medicare Coverage for Innovative Technologies (MCIT) final rule was fully repealed November 12 by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Before this repeal was announced Life Sciences PA submitted public comments to CMS expressing support for the MCIT rule. This letter had broad support from Life Sciences PA’s medtech membership with 21 organizations signing on to a letter submitted to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure on October 14. It can be found HERE.
Despite this news, we will work with our national partners on other ways to pursue this payment pathway. H.R. 4043, the Ensuring Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act of 2021 is the legislative vehicle to enact MCIT, and Life Sciences PA is pleased to report Representatives Houlahan, Boyle, Wild and Kelly have signed on from the Pennsylvania delegation with more expected in the near future.
Congresswoman Dean Visit to Rockland Immunochemicals
Life Sciences PA was pleased to coordinate a visit by Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA-04) to Rockland Immunochemicals in Montgomery County. The visit provided an opportunity for the Congresswoman to learn more about Rockland’s important contribution to Pennsylvania’s life sciences ecosystem and a chance for her to see, first-hand, the critical role the industry plays in Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District.