Hospitals on Tuesday urged Congress to pass a newly introduced bill to strengthen the 340B drug discount program.
Under the Stretching Entity Resources for Vulnerable (SERV) Communities Act introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), the HHS secretary must audit 340B providers and drug manufacturers. The bill also would force drug manufacturers to disclose drug pricing information publicly.
Matsui's bill also would reverse a January cut to 340B hospitals's Medicare payments for their outpatient drug purchases.
"By holding pharmaceutical manufacturers accountable for their actions and providing pricing transparency to the thousands of safety-net providers that participate in the program, the SERV Communities Act will reduce costs and expand access to needed care," said Maureen Testoni, interim president and CEO of hospital trade association 340B Health, in a statement.
The CMS finalized a rule late last year to cut $1.6 billion from the 340B program. It also finalized its decision to postpone a rule setting new ceiling prices for the program earlier this month. The rule has now been delayed five times. HHS said it has a new 340B drug pricing rule in the works.
Other groups including the American Hospital Association; America's Essential Hospitals; and Ryan White Clinics for 340B Access, a coalition of HIV/AIDS medical providers, also supported the bill Tuesday.
"By ending the deeply damaging outpatient payment cuts to hospitals in the 340B drug pricing program and strengthening accountability for drugmakers, Matsui's bill would affirm Congress' intent for the program and protect access to affordable drugs for millions of Americans," Dr. Bruce Siegel, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals, said in a statement.