State Senate Passes Pair Of Bipartisan Health Care Bills

Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro)

BOSTON – The state Senate has unanimously passed a pair of bipartisan health care bills, An Act enabling pharmacists to prescribe, dispense, and administer PrEP, and An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products, aimed at bridging gaps in HIV and menstrual care.

An Act enabling pharmacists to prescribe, dispense, and administer PrEP would help decrease HIV transmission and barriers to care by streamlining access to the highly effective medication HIV medication pre-exposure prophylaxis, or “PrEP”.

Current rules require that residents make an appointment with a doctor to acquire the drug, which disproportionately affects those without access to medical care or who need the medication on short notice.

“PrEP is a game changer in HIV prevention,” said Cape & Islands State Senator Julian Cyr of Truro, who uses the drug himself. “Yet, while this life-saving mediation reduces the risk of transmission by 99 percent, it remains inaccessible to too many.”

“Allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense PrEP on a short-term basis, similar to what’s already allowed for contraceptives, would significantly increase the accessibility of this essential HIV prevention tool,” he said.

An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products would advance health and economic equity for essential items by requiring that primary and secondary schools, correctional institutions, shelters, and temporary housing facilities provide safe and disposable menstrual products at no cost to recipients.

Proponents of the bill have pointed out that the need to pay for menstrual products disproportionately impacts vulnerable or disadvantaged residents.

“We live in a world where roughly 50 percent of people menstruate, yet today in Massachusetts, we offer them nowhere near the support that we should,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka.

“If we truly believe in equality for women and menstruating people in the commonwealth,” she continued, “then making period products accessible to our students and those in vulnerable situations is the right thing to do, and something we must do.”

Both bills now head to the state House of Representatives for further consideration.

About Matthew Tomlinson

Matt Tomlinson is a Cape Cod native studying to be a documentarian. He has been with the NewsCenter since 2021.
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