29 Jul Members of Congress Fight for America’s Healthcare Safety-Net Providers
By 340B Matters
The 340B Drug Discount Program is getting robbed daily by insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. Finally, someone in Washington is doing something about it. A new bill in Congress called the Protect 340B Act would prohibit the pilfering and return the program to its intended purpose: helping safety-net healthcare providers stretch scarce resources to treat underserved patients.
Introduced by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), the act would outlaw discriminatory reimbursement by commercial payors and PBMs to hospitals and clinics that contract with nearby pharmacies to dispense medications. Under the law, drug companies are required to provide lower-cost medications to safety-net providers that treat high numbers of uninsured or underinsured patients. But PBMs have insinuated themselves into the transaction and now regularly reimburse for those drugs at a lower rate for 340B providers – taking a cut for themselves. The bill would authorize civil monetary penalties on PBMs that are found to be in violation of this prohibition.
“The 340B program allows Central Virginia clinics and hospital systems to provide lower-cost prescription drugs for our region’s patients — especially those in rural communities,” said Rep. Spanberger. “However, the rising trend of 340B ‘pick-pocketing’ by third parties threatens to undermine these savings and put the financial security of patients and providers at risk. Congress did not intend for 340B savings to subsidize for-profit insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.”
We are glad to see lawmakers moving to block the theft and applaud Reps. McKinley, Spanberger and co-sponsor Doris Matsui (D-CA). The bill has won strong support from safety-net healthcare providers tired of seeing the 340B program savings gnawed away by greedy 3rd parties.
“We appreciate Representatives Spanberger’s and McKinley’s continued leadership on protecting safety-net hospitals, health centers, and clinics from the damaging actions of pharmacy benefit managers and other third-party payers,” said Maureen Testoni, president of the association 340BHealth. “By ensuring a level playing field, this legislation will support the critical mission of 340B hospitals to serve patients living with low incomes and those in rural communities. We are pleased by this bipartisan show of support for 340B providers and the patients we serve.”
Now Congress must pass the Protect 340B Act.
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