WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prevent pharmaceutical companies from undermining the 340B Drug Pricing Program and for the agency to provide certainty to hospital participants.
The 340B drug pricing program is providing flexibility to more than 40 Arkansas medical facilities to help lower drug prices. The program requires prescription drugs be sold at a discounted price to safety net hospitals, rural health facilities and other entities that provide care in underserved communities. Savings from the 340B program ensure these “covered entities” are able to continue serving their patients.
Recent announcements by drug manufacturers have put new, burdensome requirements on “covered entities” beyond the scope of the 340B program and have eliminated discounts for medications shipped to pharmacies that dispense drugs to patients on behalf of covered entities.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Boozman and a bipartisan group of senators urged the administration to take enforcement action to end these policies and protect the ability of health care facilities to continue providing medications to their patients.
“In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where providers have seen drops in revenue and available resources, it is critically important that 340B covered entities, including federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), FQHC Look-Alikes, children’s hospitals, Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics, and other safety-net hospitals and providers are able to continue to serve the individuals who seek out their care. As these threats to the Program progress, we fear the potential exacerbation of these shortfalls in resources for providers at a time when they are needed most,” the senators wrote in the letter.
The letter was sent one day after Boozman urged HHS to provide certainty for the 340B participants.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Boozman shared the concerns of rural Arkansas hospital administrators about eligibility for continued participation in the program. As a result of COVID-19, hospitals paused elective procedures and admissions decreased for Medicare and Medicaid patients. These are among the key metrics used to determine acceptance into the program.
Boozman encouraged his colleagues to extend eligibility so they can care for low-income patients and pass legislation introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) that would provide certainty to current 340B program participants.
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