Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Tuesday said Congress needs more accurate information to determine how to make the 340B Program work better for patients and hospitals.
“There is no consistent data that shows how hospitals and clinics are spending the money they save through the 340B Program,” Senator Alexander said. “The reason we don’t have much data is because the agency that oversees the program – the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – may not have the authority to actually collect data and conduct oversight over the program.”
The committee on Tuesday held its third hearing this year on the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which requires drug manufacturers that participate in Medicaid to provide discounts on prescriptions drugs to qualifying hospitals and clinics, with HRSA, which oversees the program.
Senator Alexander said, “Right now, HRSA has clear authority to determine if hospitals, clinics, and drug companies are eligible to participate in the program.
However, it is unclear if HRSA has the statutory authority to oversee other aspects of the 340B Program, for example defining which patients may benefit from the 340B Program.”
“I look forward to hearing from HRSA today, and our other committee members about what Congress can do to evaluate the 340B Program, measure the program’s performance, and ensure that the agency responsible for the program is conducting proper oversight.”
At the hearing, Senator Alexander used Methodist Hospital, Saint Thomas Health, and Erlanger Health System, three Tennessee hospitals that participate in the 340B Drug Pricing Program, as examples of how hospitals and clinics can use 340B Program savings.
Methodist Hospital in downtown Memphis has five employees working as “community navigators” that go to events in Memphis to give local residents preventative cancer tests and refer them to the Methodist cancer treatment center if necessary. Saint Thomas Health in Nashville operates four Dispensary of Hope pharmacy sites across the state of Tennessee, providing low-income, uninsured patients with free or low-cost prescription drugs. Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga delivers prescription drugs at no cost to low-income patients at their homes, to ensure they are receiving and taking their medications.
See Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.