On July 16, Wisconsin Hospital Association President/ CEO Eric Borgerding sent a letter to Wisconsin’s congressional delegation expressing concern over recent proposals that would threaten the 340B program, which provides discounts to hospitals purchasing certain prescription drugs. WHA has advocated vigorously to defend the current program, including participating in an amicus curiae lawsuit to stop the cuts CMS put in its FY2018 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rule. WHA also made it one of its key issues members advocated for during its annual member hill visits to Capitol Hill last May.
Congress has held a number of hearings exploring the 340B program over the past few months, with the most recent being a hearing on July 11 by the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. The Committee explored program integrity and also discussed 15 bills that would make changes to the program. While a few of the bills would benefit the program by reversing the cuts made in the FY2018 OPPS rule and bring parity to transparency requirements for pharmaceutical companies, other bills would weaken the program.
A proposal by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) would reduce by more than half the number of Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) that participate in the program by raising the overall DSH threshold from 11.75% to 18%. Other proposals would impose new fees and burdensome reporting requirements on hospitals that participate in the program. In the letter, WHA cautioned that Congress should be wary of proposals that expand regulations on hospitals, but do not serve the program’s goal of stretching scarce federal resources and expanding services.
Even more concerning were recent reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Azar may be pursuing new regulations that would decrease discounts offered to hospitals in the program from current rates of about 40%-60% to a standard 20% discount. WHA has encouraged Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to contact Secretary Azar to let him know their opposition to such a proposal and will continue to closely monitor any new developments.
For more information or questions on recent 340B developments, contact Jon Hoelter, WHA Director of Federal and State Relations.