A U.S. Senate committee is attempting to mark up bipartisan legislation today to reform the pharmacy benefit management industry. The draft bill itself does not address the 340B program. Republican Sen. Mike Braun (Ind.), however, has filed an amendment for consideration “that would make hospitals that serve uninsured and underinsured patients disclose how they use discounts that drug companies are required to provide,” news organization STAT reported this morning.
The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing began at 10 a.m. Eastern. The PBM bill, S. 1339, and three bills to expand access to generic drugs, are on the agenda for debate and votes.
The hearing has already hit a snag. Late this morning, HELP Committee Chair Bernie Sanders called a recess, and the committee went into executive session, amid Republican complaints about the offering of Democratic amendments that, they said, were not previously agreed to as part of the deal to hold the hearing. Also, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) moved to adjourn the hearing until after the committee could hear next week or later from representatives of the drug and PBM industries. Sanders called the recess after Romney’s motion was seconded.
Braun introduced a bill, S. 1113, on March 30 that would require all 340B covered entities to let the Department of Health and Human Services audit, at HHS’s expense, “the records of the entity to determine how net income from purchases under this section are used by the covered entity.” Braun’s bill also would require entities to “retain such records and provide such records and reports” as HHS determines necessary. He sponsored identical legislation in the 117th Congress.
In fall 2020, Braun introduced legislation to require 340B disproportionate share, children’s, and free-standing cancer hospitals to report data from their main and child sites on patient insurance status, charity care costs, and aggregate acquisition costs and reimbursements for 340B drugs. The hospitals also would have had to report “the name of all third-party vendors or other similar entities that the covered entity contracts with” for 340B program services. The bill never gained momentum.
A few months later, Braun offered then tabled a surprise amendment to a budget bill related to “improving transparency” in the 340B program “through data reporting.”
News organization Politico reported last month that HELP Committee staff members decided to exclude 340B issues from the PBM and generic-drug bills being drafted for today’s markup session. It is possible a separate hearing specifically related to the 340B program could occur at some point down the road.