Matsui Opening Remarks at 340B Drug Pricing Program Hearing

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Washington, July 11, 2018 | comments

Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) delivered the following opening remarks at a Subcommittee on Health hearing on “Opportunities to Improve the 340B Drug Pricing Program.” Congresswoman Matsui authored the Stretching Entity Resources for Vulnerable (SERV) Communities Act, legislation that clarifies the intent of the 340B Program, enhances program integrity, and protects and expands the program to meet the needs of the opioid crisis.  

I hope we can all agree that the 340B Drug Discount program is incredibly vital to low-income and vulnerable communities. Hospitals and clinics serve our communities every day. They are on the front lines of the opioid crisis right now and this program supports that work.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some misunderstanding about the original intent of the program. 340B was intended as a creative and flexible way to allow community providers to stretch scarce resources without using taxpayer dollars. It was never intended to be a drug discount program directly for patients, rather it is a discount to providers so that they may better serve patients.

For example, Ryan White HIV clinics can use the savings to truly address the social determinants of health surrounding medication adherence. That is not always direct medical care. Instead, it is a public health approach that addresses the barriers that keep people from taking their medication appropriately.

I have concerns about some of the bills and drafts we are discussing today. No one has a problem with the concept of transparency, but I am afraid that the true purpose of this legislation is just to narrow the scope of the program, rather than to increase transparency.  

There is also very little discussion about drug manufacturer transparency in the program despite the fact that only a handful of audits have been conducted on manufacturers and that civil monetary penalties for noncompliance have not been implemented.

The 340B program keeps drug prices lower for providers serving low-income and vulnerable patients. Changing the 340B program would do nothing to reduce high drug prices, as some claim.

It’s important to recognize a good thing when you have it, and the 340B Drug Discount Program is exactly that. That’s why I authored H.R. 6071, the SERV Communities Act, which will codify the program’s true intent, improve program integrity, and further extend it to mitigate the opioid crisis.

I look forward to continuing to work with the Committee to support the services provided by our community health providers.

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