The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a hearing last week on the 340B prescription drug discount program.
The hearing was prompted by complaints from pharmaceutical companies about the discounts they are required to provide to eligible providers and by concern that hospitals are insufficiently accountable for how they use the savings they derive from those discounts to serve their low-income patients. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently reduced its Medicare payments to participating hospitals.
During the hearing, Senate Republicans expressed support for the program but spoke of the need for greater transparency in the use of the savings the 340B program generates for hospitals and a clearer sense of how those savings benefit low-income payments. Committee Democrats expressed similar concern but with less urgency.
Hospital industry representatives expressed concern that any new requirements could weaken the program and rejected the idea that savings are misused. Committee members pushed back against these contentions.
Most private safety-net hospitals participate in the 340B program and it is a vital tool in their efforts to serve their low-income communities.
The Senate HELP Committee intends to hold additional hearings about the 340B program.
Learn more about the 340B hearing and the concerns that led to in this Healthcare Dive article.