6 senators make last-ditch effort to prevent 340B payment cuts before year’s end

Six senators from both sides of the aisle are fighting to include legislation in a year-end package that would stop planned dramatic payment cuts to the 340B drug discount program.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services intends to cut $1.6 billion in drug discount payments in order to increase access to care and lower out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries. But some hospital industry leaders say the move is misguided and will actually harm patient care because it will force hospitals to cut back on services. And they have filed a lawsuit to prevent the cuts.

RELATED: CMS final rule slashes 340B drug payments by $1.6B; hospitals vow to fight it in court

Now the hospital groups have support from at least six senators, AHA News reports. The trade group obtained a copy of a letter (PDF) signed by senators John Thune, R-S.D., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., that urges the Senate to stop the cuts.

“The 340B program has been critical to supporting safety-net providers in helping low-income and vulnerable individuals across the country access affordable, comprehensive healthcare services for more than 25 years,” they wrote. “Hospitals in our states report that this program has enabled them to expand healthcare services to the community and increase the number of patients they serve.”

Meanwhile, representatives David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., have introduced a bill that would prevent the cuts to the 340B program from being implemented.