15 May Modern Healthcare: Senate committee turns 340B spotlight on drugmakers
“In a hearing Tuesday, members of the Senate health committee asked government watchdogs why the Trump administration has delayed for the fifth time a rule that would set ceiling prices and why 340B hospitals don’t know what they ought to be paying for the discounted drugs. Although the Government Accountability Office and HHS Office of the Inspector General urged senators to clarify 340B’s intent to improve oversight, the tone marked a shift from the committee’s March hearing where hospitals were on the hot seat for how they spend the funds they save thanks to 340B.
Ann Maxwell, HHS OIG’s assistant inspector general for evaluation and inspections, said the office believes the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) needs to share 340B drug ceiling prices directly with providers and states to make the 340B program more transparent.
But that move is on hold, she said. The Affordable Care Act gave HRSA the authority to share the data with providers, but so far the agency hasn’t finished its secured data system to release the prices. Congress would have to give HRSA additional authority to share them with states as well. The secured data system likely won’t be completed before the Trump administration finalizes its drug pricing rules, Maxwell said.
Maxwell and GAO’s Debra Draper both testified that the systematic audits in place for hospitals don’t carry over to the pharmaceutical industry involved in 340B.
HRSA must refer drugmakers that overcharge 340B providers to the OIG for penalties. To date, HRSA has not made any referrals, according to Maxwell.
The lack of transparency financially hurts providers, Maxwell said. A 2005 report showed that 14% of all drug purchases by 340B providers in one month were over the mandated ceiling price, racking up an estimated $3.9 million in overcharges for June 2005 alone.”