Health care services and group purchasing company Vizient asked Congress on Monday to pass the U.S. Senate version of bipartisan legislation to protect hospitals from losing their 340B eligibility due to changes in patient and payer mix caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vizient urged Congress to pass S. 773 in a letter Monday pegged to continuing debate in Congress over federal appropriations for fiscal year 2022. A stopgap spending bill for the entire government is due to expire on Feb. 18. The successor to it is attracting attention as a vehicle for amendments that would have a hard time being enacted as stand-alone bills.
The American Hospital Association made a similar pitch on Jan. 19 for legislation to protect hospitals from losing 340B eligibility during the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, many hospitals have seen changes to their payer mix, which has resulted in the loss of their Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) status and, as such, their 340B eligibility,” Vizient said in its letter.
“Vizient has urged CMS to take steps to address this issue through regulation, but the agency has not yet clarified whether those impacted could retain their pre-pandemic status,” the company continued. “Vizient urges Congress to consider S. 773, which would allow those impacted facilities to maintain their 340B eligibility.
H.R. 3203, the companion bill in the House to S. 773, also would protect hospitals’ 340B eligibility. A similar bill introduced in the House during the last session of Congress also would have waived during the pandemic the 340B statutory prohibition on obtaining covered outpatient drugs through a group purchasing organization or other group purchasing arrangement for disproportionate share hospitals, children’s hospitals, and free-standing cancer hospitals.