Senators Focus on Hospital Drug Discount Program | Medpage Today

WASHINGTON — The 340B discount program for prescription drugs used by safety-net hospitals needs better government oversight, several watchdog agency officials said at a Senate hearing.

Although the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which oversees the program, has taken some important steps to improve oversight, “a number of important issues remain,” said Debra Draper, PhD, director of the healthcare team at the Government Accountability Office, during a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee.

These issues include “whether the intent of the program is still relevant today given the vastly changed healthcare landscape and the 340B program environment, and the continued lack of specificity in program guidance, most notably the definition of patient and hospital eligibility criteria,”said Draper, whose agency released a 2011 report on the program’s problems. “Until these issues are resolved, there will continue to be questions about the integrity of the 340B program and HRSA’s ability to provide effective oversight.”

One thing that might help is to make the prices charged under the 340B program more transparent by sharing them with providers and states, said Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for evaluation and inspections at the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. “That will allow providers and states to make sure they aren’t being overcharged,” she said, noting that her office has found instances of overcharging.

“In addition to pricing information, states need transparency as to which Medicaid claims represent 340B drugs,” Maxwell continued. “Even if states gain visibility into 340B prices, Medicaid may still end up overpaying for drugs unless they can identify which claims should be reimbursed at the lower 340B prices.”

Read complete article here:

Senators Focus on Hospital Drug Discount Program | Medpage Today.