WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today held a hearing to discuss the 340B federal drug discount program. Witnesses from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG), and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the primary agency in charge of the 340B program, testified on the program’s intent and recent changes as well as oversight efforts within the administration to maintain program integrity.
Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “I’ve seen the great work this program does in my district. From the Bronson Health System in the Kalamazoo area, to Lakeland in Berrien and Cass Counties to Allegan General Hospital in the north to the numerous Family Health Centers, the 340B program has ensured that many of my underserved constituents have access to affordable, lifesaving medicine. There’s no doubt that the 340B program has played an important role in helping reduce costs while also extending access. It is in the interest of good government to see program integrity strengthened, the program’s operating parameters clarified, and the program’s rules consistently enforced.”
Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) said, “GAO and OIG have reported that unclear program guidelines and inconsistent oversight is partially responsible for some of the challenges the program currently faces in being accountable to taxpayers, patients, and stakeholders. Covered entities and manufacturers understandably cannot comply with rules that are unclear. One thing I hope we can all agree on is that to preserve the 340B program and ensure that it is serving those who most need help, greater oversight and transparency is needed to increase the program’s accountability.”
Ann Maxwell of HHS OIG discussed recent changes made to the program and offered two further recommendations to improve the program, “(1) increasing transparency, and (2) clarifying program rules.”
Debbie Draper, Director of Health Care at the GAO, addressed further recommendations from the GAO to improve program integrity. She testified, “We found that HRSA’s guidance on key program requirements lacked the necessary level of specificity to provide clear direction, making it difficult for participants to self-police or monitor others’ compliance and raising concerns that the guidance could be interpreted in ways that were inconsistent with its intent.”
Diana Espinosa, Deputy Administrator at HRSA, addressed the agency’s adoption of some of HHS OIG’s and GAO’s previous recommendations and plans for continued oversight efforts. “We share the goal of ensuring strong oversight of the 340B Program. … HRSA is fully committed to strengthening 340B program integrity efforts and ensuring that our management and oversight supports the program’s continued success.”