North Carolina lawmakers are debating whether to grant all 340B covered entities and their contract pharmacies, or only some, protection against discrimination by pharmacy benefit managers.
Last week Thursday, state House and Senate leaders appointed members to a conference committee on SB 257, a bill to license and regulate PBMs with a section specifically related to the 340B program. That section would prohibit contracts between PBMs and 340B covered entities or between PBMs and 340B contract pharmacies from:
- Restricting access to a pharmacy network or adjusting 340B drug reimbursement based on whether a pharmacy dispenses 340B-purchased drugs
- Varying the amount of or assessing additional fees based on a drug or pharmacy’s 340B status
- Interfering with an individual’s choice to get prescriptions filled by a 340B pharmacy.
The version the Senate passed in June would have extended the bill’s 340B protections only to community health centers, Ryan White clinics, the state’s HIV medication assistance program, critical access hospitals, and rural referral centers. The House on Aug. 18 voted to amend the bill to extend protection to all types of 340B covered entities. The Senate voted to reject the House amendment the next day.
The state’s health systems and hospitals reportedly are lobbying hard for the House version broadening protection beyond critical access hospitals and rural referral centers to all 340B hospital types.
Although there is no firm date for final adjournment of this legislative session, sources say it is likely to happen in mid-September.