Former Republican Congressman Dan Burton (Ind.) called the 340B program “a win for all parties involved” in a Kokomo, Indiana newspaper op-ed this week and said a current House Republican’s 340B bill could deny vulnerable Hoosiers access to care.
Rep. Matt Rosendale’s (R-Mont.) Drug Pricing Transparency and Accountability Act would put a moratorium on 340B hospital growth, add new reporting requirements on 340B hospitals, and make it harder for private nonprofit hospitals to stay in the 340B program. He introduced it in the 117th Congress and reintroduced it in January.
“While well intentioned, [the bill] would add new red tape to 340B that many smaller community hospitals could find unworkable,” Burton warned in the May 2 guest essay the Kokomo Tribune. “The bill would also stop new enrollments in the program and could also force out hospitals that are already participating. Such changes could present concerning new roadblocks to accessing care for some of the most vulnerable citizens in Indiana.”
Burton served in the House from 1983 to 2013. He led the conservative House Republican Study Committee from 1989 to 1995 and was its co-leader through 1999. Burton chaired the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight (105th Congress) and the Committee on Government Reform (106th and 107th Congresses). His committees did not have jurisdiction over the 340B program and Burton was not active on 340B issues while in Congress.
Indiana Lawmakers Interest in 340B
Some of Congress’ leading 340B hospital critics are from Indiana, including Rep. Larry Buchson (R) who is Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and Sen. Mike Braun (R) who serves on the Senate HELP Committee. Drug manufacturer Eli Lilly is headquartered there.
In the newspaper article, Burton said the 340B program “provides pharmaceutical companies the ability to sell their products to Medicaid patients in return for providing discounted drugs to safety net hospitals.”
“A win for all parties involved, the program functions at virtually zero cost to the taxpayer and relatively little cost to the drug manufacturers, accounting for a mere 3.6% of the total drug market and providing them with access to a guaranteed market for their products in exchange,” he wrote. “The footprint may be small, but it makes a big difference as hospitals use cost savings from the program to provide charity care as well as free or steeply discounted drugs to underinsured or uninsured patients.”