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Preserving 340B Is Essential to Our Most Vulnerable Patients

Jan 29, 2018

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING CARE TO MEDICALLY UNDERSERVED rely on the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and ASHP is committed to fighting ongoing threats to the program that could have serious consequences for our patients. ASHP has a long history of support for the 340B program, and many of our members have seen firsthand the benefits of the program to the patients they serve. As Congress considered overhauling the nation’s healthcare system last year, ASHP developed Principles on Healthcare Reform that included our support for the 340B program. We continue to collaborate with numerous stakeholders, including our longstanding partners at the American Hospital Association (AHA) and 340B Health, to prevent cuts to program eligibility and scope.

Last August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule that cuts Medicare Part B reimbursement for drugs purchased through the 340B program from ASP plus 6 percent to ASP minus 22.5 percent. Along with the AHA and many other like-minded stakeholders, ASHP submitted comments to CMS opposing the cuts. In addition to the comments, ASHP lobbied on Capitol Hill to garner signatures to a Dear Colleague Letter from Congress to CMS urging the agency not to go through with the cuts. During ASHP’s annual Legislative Day in September, over 100 ASHP members met with their members of Congress to discuss, among other issues, the importance of the 340B program to their organizations and the critical role it plays in their ability to provide care to the medically underserved.

In November, CMS finalized the rule, and the reimbursement cuts were set to begin this year. AHA has filed a lawsuit challenging CMS’s authority to impose the cuts on the federal 340B program, and ASHP is supportive of AHA’s efforts. We are extremely disappointed that the rule putting the cuts in effect was finalized, and we remain committed to advocating for overturning this rule.

To that end, ASHP supports legislation (H.R. 4392) that would block the CMS-imposed cuts. Sponsored by Representatives David McKinley (R-W.V.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), the bill currently has 181 co-sponsors in the House. In addition to our letter of support, ASHP has created a grassroots letter of support for our members to send using our electronic letter-writing platform.

We know that there will be additional threats to the 340B program in 2018. For example, recently introduced legislation (H.R. 4710) would impose a two-year moratorium on disproportionate share hospitals applying to become covered entities within the federal 340B program. This bill would also require additional reporting requirements, including reporting of the number of insured patients, total cost of charity care provided, reimbursement for all drugs, and a listing of all third-party vendors associated with the 340B program. ASHP has strong concerns over this legislation, and we expressed our opposition in writing to the bill’s sponsors. Similar legislation (S. 2312), was introduced in the Senate, and ASHP will oppose that bill as well.

We expect to see additional legislation later this year. The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week released a report on the 340B Drug Pricing Program. The committee has been examining the structure, operation, and oversight of the program over the past two years through stakeholder meetings, committee hearings, and document collection. Further, Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has stated that there will be legislative efforts to change the 340B program this year to focus on definition, transparency, and oversight. ASHP developed an issue brief summarizing that report and the potential legislative options that may result.

ASHP remains committed to supporting the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and we will continue to do so through assertive advocacy on Capitol Hill, grassroots advocacy, comments to federal agencies, and meetings with agency officials. Further, ASHP will continue working with other program supporters such as AHA and 340B Health to protect the program from threats, both legislative and regulatory.

Thanks so much for continuing to advocate on behalf of your patients and the profession, and for being a member of ASHP.

Sincerely,

Paul

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