Bioscience Day at the Capitol

01/28/2010

Colorado BioScience AssociationCBSA held its second annual day at the Capitol, which featured brief remarks from several state legislators affirming their support for the industry along with a presentation from Patrick Kelly of BIO and a panel discussion on state legislative priorities.

Kelly rehashed some points from last year’s presentationon the key state attributes to create a strong bioscience industry and then focused on the possibilities for healthcare reform. Kelly first focused on some key factors that were included in the reform bill likely to be passed up until the election of Senator Brown from Massachusetts. Among the points that were generally favorable to the bioscience industry were the establishment of an approval path for follow-on biologics following a 12 year exclusivity period, Medicare Part D donut hole coverage, and a tax credit for small companies that brought a human therapeutic to market. Other key measures included an excise tax of drug manufacturers, a “sunshine provision” for information transparency, and comparative effectiveness provisions. To the final point, Kelly noted concern that this type of regulation could turn into cost-effectiveness analysis.

Given the loss of the 60th vote in the Senate, Kelly commented on four potential outcomes for health reform.

  1. The House passes the Senate bill, an unlikely outcome given sufficient votes may not exist
  2. The bills are combined and passed through reconciliation, a process which would only require 51 Senate votes to pass.
  3. Health reform efforts are put on hold
  4. The current bills are scrapped, but a scaled down bi-partisan reform bill is created. Kelly believes this bill would be in the $400B range, or about half the cost of the current Senate Bill. Kelly said this option would likely focus on “insurance reform” with payors as the primary target. He noted that any pressure put on payors inevitably trickles down to consumer (higher deductibles, copays), employers (higher premiums), and manufacturers (more difficulty with reimbursement).

The morning concluded with a panel discussion of bioscience-related legislation and initiatives in the state. Senate Bill 090 (sponsored by Senator Johnston and Representative Riesberg) would create a Colorado Capital Investment Bulletin Board. The board, which would be hosted on the website of the Governor’s Office for Economic Development, would allow early stage Colorado bioscience and clean tech companies to post their funding needs. The bill is being supported by both CBSA and the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA).

Also relevant to the industry will be the creation of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Venture Capital Investment: Bioscience Industry that will be created by executive order.