Republicans and Democrats Agree:  We Like 340B | 340B Matters
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28 Jun Republicans and Democrats Agree:  We Like 340B

On June 4, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on the 340B Drug Discount Program that showcased why it continues to survive aggressive attacks from the pharmaceutical industry.

The hearing demonstrated that even with so much bipartisan rancor and polarization in Washington, the success of 340B is something that both Republicans and Democrats recognize.

The 340B program isn’t perfect but it functions every day exactly as Congress envisioned. It helps safety-net healthcare providers stretch scarce resources to serve more patients in need.  Look no further than the COVID pandemic, when 340B hospitals and clinics worked to the breaking point to care for thousands of ill Americans – regardless of ability to pay. These nonprofit providers are the first – and last — line of healthcare for millions of citizens, especially those living in our rural areas.

That’s why lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support the program — and most have a 340B hospital or clinic in their district that depends on it.

“There are many hospitals, including those in my district, who I believe are appropriately using 340B dollars in order to keep their doors open and they heavily rely on this program,” said subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA). “I am a supporter of the overall concepts of the 340B program.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers emphatically underscored its benefits: “For community health centers, high disproportionate share hospitals, and rural providers, savings from the 340B program are critical. In some cases, savings from the 340B program are helping keep the lights on at what may be the only hospital in a rural community.”

Said Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “The 340B drug pricing program is incredibly important to the ability of hospitals, community health centers, and specialized clinics to provide comprehensive quality health care to underserved populations across the country.”

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) agreed: “So when we talk about oversight and potential reforms, I want to be sure that we’re very clear about the benefits of the 340B drug discounts for neighbors and what the consequences would be if Congress acts to significantly restrict these discounts.”

Even with the bipartisan praise of the program, we recognize there is room for improvement. We urge all members of Congress to read our Principles for a Stronger 340B Program to learn more about how to build upon the obvious successes of the program.

One important area for reform is transparency. Big Pharma wants hospitals to provide more information on how they spend 340B savings to benefit patients. Worth considering, but drug companies must no longer be allowed to hide the profits they generate from the program.

Here are questions that must be answered before Congress considers updates:

1.   What are the total annual profits each drug company makes selling drugs through the 340B program?

2. What are the drug industry’s total annual profits from selling medicines to the Medicare and Medicaid programs?

Right now, the drug industry is a profit black box. Big Pharma makes billions annually from tax payer funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Manufacturers must participate in 340B if they wish to have access to the billions in Medicare & Medicaid.

This funding mechanism is entirely private – no tax dollars are used.

We thank Representatives McMorris Rodgers, Griffith, Pallone and Kastor for their ongoing support of this critical healthcare safety-net program.

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