Hospitals push again on new 340B guidance

As the federal government continues to push new guidance regarding how the 340B drug discount program operates, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its members continue to prod Congress to ensure that the changes do not go too far.

Representatives from the AHA, Trinity Health in Livonia, Michigan; Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia; Saint Thomas Health in Nashville; and Providence Health & Services in Seattle participated in a briefing of Congressional staff last week on Capitol Hill, AHA News Now reported. The message to the staff was blunt: The changes recommended by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)--which oversees 340B--may jeopardize care for indigent patients.

The draft guidance released by HRSA a couple of months ago proposes some significant changes to 340B. Among them: A ban on the reselling or transfer of drugs to patients who not being treated by the participating hospital; a ban on the use of a group purchasing organization for many 340B purchases, although some exceptions can be made; and more stringent recordkeeping requirements.

The changes came after reports that some hospitals were making tens of millions of dollars by reselling 340B drugs at a big markup to insured patients, as well as some reports that hospitals participating in 340B were falling short in terms of commensurate levels of charity care.

Nevertheless, the AHA and other hospital lobbies were able to fend off changes to the program proposed by Congress earlier this year.

In addition to the lobbying of Congressional staff, the AHA also released an animated video detailing the benefits of the 340B program to patients and communities.

HRSA gathered comments on the draft guidance until late October; it is expected to release final guidance either late this year or in early 2016.

To learn more:
- read the AHA News Now article
- check out the video