Advocacy Alert

Urge Your Lawmakers to Support Essential Health System Designation

On the Hill: 340B Discussion Draft Released 

Julia Grady
February 6, 2024

On Feb. 2, a working group of six senators released a discussion draft on the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which it developed from a request for information (RFI) last year and that solicits stakeholder feedback on various changes under consideration.

The draft includes proposals regarding drug company restrictions on 340B contract pharmacies, the program’s patient definition, use of offsite locations, federal program oversight, transparency, and other topics. America’s Essential Hospitals defended the program in a July 2023 response to the working group’s RFI.

Members of the working group, informally known as the “Gang of Six,” include Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis,), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). America’s Essential Hospitals is analyzing the discussion draft for a possible response.

Recent Committee Activity 

Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on drivers of high health care costs. Many members pointed to the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act as an example of the committee’s efforts to lower costs. Other hearing topics included consolidation, site-neutral payments, Medicare Advantage plans, and the need for wider access to claims data.

One witness, American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Benedic Ippolito, PhD, MS, made comments that echoed, in part, America’s Essential Hospitals’ call for a federal essential hospital designation to better target safety net support.

Rather than forgoing cost-savings measures, such as site-neutral payments, because they threaten “financially distressed” hospitals, Ippolito said, Congress could “try to mitigate revenue losses for certain hospitals you care about, maybe phase the policy in, or just limit losses [at] certain types of hospitals…”

“I think that gives you more bang for your buck because you’re not spreading all of this money across every hospital including those that are in very strong financial positions…you’re targeting it to places where you really think they need help,” he said.

Committee Activity This Week

The House is in session Monday through Wednesday, and the Senate is in session Tuesday through Friday this week.   

The House Committee on Ways and Means was scheduled to meet Tuesday for a hearing, “Examining Chronic Drug Shortages in the United States.” The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations also scheduled a Tuesday hearing, “Protecting American Health Security: Oversight of Shortcomings in the FDA’s Foreign Drug Inspection Program.”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is scheduled to meet Feb. 8, at 10 am ET, for a hearing, “Why Does the United States Pay, by Far, the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs?” Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing Feb. 8, at 10 am ET, titled, “Artificial Intelligence and Health Care: Promise and Pitfalls.” 

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