Hatch asks Azar to shift 340B oversight to CMS
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Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch has released a letter in which he asked HHS Secretary Alex Azar to shift the 340B program to his committee's jurisdiction.
With this letter, the Utah Republican joined the mounting effort in Congress to scale back the program and redefine how hospitals should use the drug manufacturer discounts they receive through the program.
In his letter to the new department secretary, Hatch said the program—which now has 37,496 registered sites—has outgrown the jurisdiction of the Health Resources and Services Administration.
"CMS has extensive experience directly interacting with hospitals and drug manufacturers, including ensuring they meet participation requirements and conduct audits," Hatch wrote. "Given that CMS is already tasked with overseeing Medicare and Medicaid, would CMS be better suited to administer the 340B program? If not, why not, and how can CMS and HRSA coordinate better to ensure access to affordable drugs while protecting taxpayer dollars?"
Currently the Senate health committee oversees 340B exclusively, as it has jurisdiction over HRSA-administered programs.
But Hatch argued that with the expansion of the program, the relationship between 340B, Medicaid and Medicare has also expanded, with Medicare Part B as well as the Medicaid drug rebate program. All matters Medicare and Medicaid fall under the finance committee's oversight jurisdiction.
While the letter has raised eyebrows, committee staff don't expect any change in jurisdiction from the health to finance committees.
The next steps in 340B reform will come from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A package of bills that would up the ante on reporting requirements and limit the patients who qualify for the manufacturer discount was originally expected at the end of this month but will now likely get a markup in March, lobbyists tell Modern Healthcare.
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