A Kansas Republican congressman said on Capitol Hill yesterday that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are taking away health centers and other safety net providers’ 340B savings and driving up their costs.
340B health centers and other providers “are reporting that PBMs are undermining the intent of the program by effectively pickpocketing the 340B savings that were intended to support these providers and using them to boost their own profits instead,” Rep. Jake La Turner (R-Kan.) said. “Small safety net providers lack the power to push back on these contracts.”
La Turner made the remarks during a Nov. 17 forum by Republicans on the U.S. House Oversight and Investigations Committee. The unofficial hearing, which committee Democrats did not attend, was on PBMs’ role in driving up prescription drug prices. Committee Republicans said they held the forum because the Democrats in power are focusing their ongoing investigation of drug price increases exclusively on drug manufacturers. La Turner serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform which has held a number of hearings on drug prices.
La Turner is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4390, bipartisan legislation introduced in July to prohibit PBMs and other third-party payers from paying 340B providers below-market rates or engaging in other perceived discriminatory contracting practices. Although 36 Democrats and 18 Republicans back the bill, there has been no action on it at the committee level.
La Turner asked an expert invited to speak at the forum, Co-Director Erin Trish of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at the University of Southern California, if she would back another of H.R. 4390’s purposes—creating an independent body to review claims data to prevent duplication of 340B discounts and Medicaid rebates on the same drugs. Trish said she would.