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  • Washington Highlights

    Bipartisan Senate Letter Asks Leadership to Prevent Cuts to 340B

    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    A bipartisan group of six senators sent a Dec. 5 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to show support for the 340B Drug Pricing Program and urge the Senate to include legislation in a year-end package, which would prevent the Medicare payment cuts to hospitals that participate in the program.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Nov. 1 issued the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) final rule that would dramatically reduce the payment rate for certain Medicare Part B drugs purchased through the 340B program from the average sales price (ASP) plus 6 percent to ASP minus 22.5 percent. CMS projects that this will result in an annual reduction of $1.6 billion [see Washington Highlights, Nov. 3].

    Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), sent the letter. They also led a “Dear Colleague” letter signed by 57 senators to express concern over the proposed regulation before it was finalized.

    The Dec. 5 letter notes that the “340B program has been critical to supporting safety-net providers in helping low-income and vulnerable individuals across the country access affordable, comprehensive health care services for more than 25 years.” It continues, “With a January 1, 2018 start date and over half of the Senate and House of Representatives having expressed concerns with CMS’ rule, we request your help in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the 340B program by preventing these changes in an end of year package.”

    In the House, Representatives David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation (H.R. 4392) that would prevent the cuts from being implemented [see Washington Highlights, Nov. 17]. The bill currently has nearly 100 cosponsors.