Lawmakers introduce 340B legislation to step up program oversight
Congress now has two rival bills with dueling views on how the 340B program should look.
On Thursday, Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) released a bill that would essentially rewrite rules for the 340B hospitals in a way that critics argue would fundamentally alter the program and the way it provides care for vulnerable patients.
The Bucshon-Peters bill would stop new disproportionate-share hospitals from enrolling in 340B and halt registration of new child sites for these hospitals. Other provisions include new reporting requirements for DSH, cancer and children's hospitals, and a mandate to make all reported data from these hospitals public.
340B-covered entities would also have to report the insurance coverage and incomes of their patients, how much charity care they offer at their child sites, and their total reimbursements for 340B-discounted drugs.
Hospitals are wary of what healthcare lobbyist Peggy Tighe of Powers Law Firm calls a "total re-write of the program masquerading as simple reporting requirements."
Modern Healthcare first reported the outlines of the Bucshon-Peters legislation earlier this week after obtaining policy documents allegedly floated by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.
This bill counters another legislative measure by Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) that would protect the program against $1.6 billion in annual Medicare cuts to 340B hospitals that the CMS plans to launch Jan. 1. Hospital groups led by the American Hospital Association have sued for an injunction against the rule. A federal judge heard arguments on the injunction Thursday and hospitals expect a verdict before the end of the year.
PhRMA President Stephen Ubl immediately issued a statement supporting the Bucshon-Peters bill on Thursday. He called it "yet another important action taken this year to begin to address the problems in the 340B program."
"This legislation provides Congress with a much-needed opportunity to closely evaluate 340B and ways it can be fixed to the benefit of patients," Ubl said.
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