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November 25, 2019

Around the Nation: Massachusetts lawmakers approve bill to ban all flavored tobacco and vaping products

Daily Briefing

    The bill now heads to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who has not indicated whether he will sign the measure, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

    • Maryland: Kaiser Permanente as part of a $13 billion expansion plan will open 10 new medical facilities in Baltimore. The buildings likely will be completed by 2028 and will expand Kaiser's insurance plan membership and presence in the city (Ellison, Becker's Hospital Review, 11/20).

    • Massachusetts: State lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol-flavored cigarettes, in the state. The bill also would implement a 75% excise tax on vaping products and would require health insurers in the state to cover counseling for tobacco cessation. The bill now heads to Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who has not indicated whether he will sign the measure (Associated Press, 11/21).

    • Pennsylvania: Highmark on Tuesday announced that, in January 2020, it will enter into a partnership with three organizations that will provide the company with drugs to treat its 190 members with hemophilia. Highmark said it usually spends about $80 million per year on hemophilia medication, but the new partnership with Option Care Health, Soleo Health, and Hemophilia Center of Western Pennsylvania will allow the organization to obtain hemophilia drugs at a more competitive rate. The partnership also will reduce drug waste and "establish[h] new performance guarantees and oversight protocols for providers," according to Ned Finn, director of specialty pharmacy services for Highmark (Gough, Pittsburgh Business Times, 11/19).

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