The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should not significantly reduce Medicare payments for some prescription drugs.

Or so says one of CMS’s own advisory panels.

The agency’s Advisory Panel on Outpatient Prospective Payment reached this conclusion after listening to testimony from hospital industry stakeholders who told of the savings the federal government’s 340B prescription drug discount program produces and how those savings enable hospitals in low-income areas to help low-income patients who would not otherwise be able to afford their drugs and help improve access to care for low-income patients with very limited health care options.

The panel’s recommendation came just a month after CMS proposed reducing Medicare reimbursement for 340B drugs from its current level, average sales price plus six percent, to average sales price less 22.5 percent.

NAUH agrees with the advisory panel:  it opposes the proposed change in the 340B program.

Critics of the program maintain that it is abused by hospitals, which are not required to reinvest their 340B savings in health care for the poor.  Program supporters maintain that hospitals do use those savings for this very purpose.

Most of the country’s private safety-net hospitals participate in the 340B program and consider it an essential part of their overall effort to serve the many low-income residents of the communities they serve.

CMS called for the change in the 340B program in a proposed regulation published in July.  Interested parties have until September 11 to comment on the proposal.

Learn more about this issue and the CMS advisory panel’s recommendation in this Fierce Healthcare article.