Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), U.S. congresswoman for the 21st district in upstate New York and third highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, visited independently-owned Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh, N.Y., last week in a show of support for the 340B contract pharmacy program.
Condo is a 340B contract pharmacy for Hudson Headwaters Health Network (HHHN), a health system with 21 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) spread across the rural Adirondack North Country and Glens Falls regions of New York.
House Republicans have been divided regarding the future of the 340B program. Many GOP lawmakers, particularly those on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the 340B program, have raised concerns about the program’s growth and have echoed the drug industry’s calls for reforming the program. However, Stefanik, along with a smaller group of GOP lawmakers have generally sided with the 340B provider community in their various battles with the pharmaceutical and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industries.
Last month, Stefanik, along with 36 other House Republican members, joined 144 Democrats on a bipartisan letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the administration to quickly impose civil monetary penalties against all drug manufacturers that restrict access to 340B pricing when covered entities use contract pharmacies.
Stefanik, a Harvard graduate who was elected by her GOP colleagues to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) as House Conference Chair in May 2021, tweeted about her visit to Condo Pharmacy, saying “I worked to address the concerns of locally-owned pharmacies working to meet healthcare needs,” and “I am proud to support the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, 340B program, & Pharmacy DIR Reform to lower the cost of prescription drugs.”
Pharmacy co-owner Steve Moore welcomed the visit from Stefanik. “Working with multiple covered entities, the 340B program allows Condo Pharmacy to service a broad reach of patients and is an important safety net,” he said. “Manufacturer restrictions on contract pharmacies have limited the program’s effectiveness and we look forward to working with the congresswoman to ensure that patients receive the medications they need at an affordable price.”
Seán Philpott-Jones, Vice President for Government Relations and Grants Management at HHHN, underscored the importance of working with Stefanik and others in the New York Congressional delegation. “Hudson Headwaters relies on our many contract pharmacy partners to ensure patients across our vast service area have access to the medications they need. Condo Pharmacy is one of those valued partners,” “We appreciate the efforts of Congresswoman Stefanik and our other federal and state representatives to protect the integrity of the 340B program, including the use of contract pharmacies.”
HHHN Chief Executive Officer Dr. D. Tucker Slingerland echoes this appreciation and notes that the 340B program allows the organization to “expand services to rural communities that would otherwise lack access,” and “it is crucial to our mission to provide high-quality, affordable and comprehensive health care to everyone who needs it regardless of ability to pay.”
The Lower Costs, Mores Cures Act that Stefanik references in her Tweet was introduced by top Republicans in three House Committees in April of last year as an answer to Democrats’ sprawling Medicare drug negotiation legislation, but it does not pertain directly to 340B. Rather, it focuses on drug price transparency, changes to drug coverage and reimbursement practices in Medicare Part B and D and Medicaid, and altering the Part D benefit structure. But certain language in the legislation was strongly opposed by 340B covered entities—specifically, a change to Medicaid reimbursement that would eliminate any revenue they recoup from dispensing Medicaid-reimbursed drugs.
During this session of Congress, Stefanik has sponsored a number of bills that 340B providers have championed. These include the PROTECT 340B Act, a bill prohibiting PBMs and other third-party payers from paying 340B providers below-market rates or engaging in other perceived discriminatory contracting practices. The bill, which has 109 sponsors, would also create a neutral third party clearinghouse to prevent manufacturers from having to provide both an upfront 340B discount and a rebate to Medicaid on the back end. Stefanik co-sponsored a bill introduced in May 2021 to protect 340B hospitals from losing eligibility for the program during the COVID pandemic —due to unavoidable changes in patient and payer mix—by temporarily waiving the DSH adjustment percentage requirement. These protections were adopted in an appropriations bill signed into law by President Biden in March 2022.