228 Bipartisan Members of Congress Oppose Proposed Changes to 340B

Sep 28, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA),  David P. McKinley (R-W. VA), and David Kustoff (R-TN) joined 228 bipartisan members of Congress to send a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging the administration to withdraw its harmful proposal to levy cuts on certain hospitals participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program (340B program).

On July 13, 2017, CMS released the outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) proposed rule for 2018. The rule would dramatically cut the reimbursement rate for Medicare Part B drugs purchased by certain hospitals covered under the 340B program. These cuts jeopardize care for millions by directly reducing revenue to safety net hospitals that care for vulnerable patents in underserved and rural communities, without addressing the underlying price of the drugs.

“This program is a lifeline for the hospitals that serve our most vulnerable patients. These arbitrary cuts will do nothing to improve patient care, or address rising costs in the Medicare program. Instead they simply jeopardize access to the treatments and services that 340B hospitals provide,” said Rep. Thompson. “There is robust bipartisan agreement that CMS should go back to the drawing board to prevent harm to patients across the country.”

“Protecting access to prescription drugs for low income people should be a priority. Unfortunately, CMS’s misguided proposal would jeopardize the ability of hospitals to provide vital services to vulnerable populations,” said Rep. McKinley. “Our letter shows strong bipartisan opposition to this proposed rule, and hopefully will convince CMS to change course. We must address the high costs of drugs, but this is not the way to do it.”   

Congressman Kustoff said: “For 25 years, the 340B program has expanded vital health services to our rural and low-income communities in West Tennessee. CMS’s proposed rule change would slash funding and strip safety net hospitals of the ability to serve those who need medical care the most. We must responsibly address rising prescription drug costs without putting the most vulnerable patients at risk. I hope this overwhelming, bipartisan opposition to the 340B rule change demonstrates the significance of supporting rural and safety net hospitals.”

“The AHA thanks Representatives McKinley, Thompson, and Kustoff for leading this bipartisan effort to protect patient care by urging CMS to rescind its misguided proposal to reduce Medicare Part B payments for 340B hospitals,” said Tom Nickels, Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association. “For 25 years, the 340B Drug Pricing program has been critical in helping hospitals expand access to lifesaving prescription drugs and comprehensive health care to low-income patients in communities across the country.”

“The AAMC thanks Representatives McKinley, Thompson, and Kustoff, along with a majority of House members from both sides of the aisle who have signed on in opposition to this proposal that would weaken the safety net by arbitrarily reducing Medicare payments to hospitals participating in the 340B program,” said Atul Grover, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “This program is vital to the nation’s health because, at virtually no cost to taxpayers, it strengthens the ability of hospitals to care for underserved populations and provide critical health services to some of America’s most vulnerable patients.”

Since 1992, the 340B program has leveraged mandated discounts offered by drug manufacturers to help hospitals and other covered entities provide discounted drugs and lifesaving services to their patients. CMS’ proposed rule will eliminate funding that hospitals use to support the unreimbursed cost of care for those who need it the most.

The full letter can be found here.