COVID-19 Legislative News

COVID-19 Legislative News

On July 29, Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced a bill that would protect 340B hospitals from losing eligibility for 340B drug discounts and allow flexibility in how 340B hospitals purchase drugs during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Specifically, H.B. 7838 would waive the group purchasing prohibition for 340B hospitals and the minimum disproportionate share adjustment percentage requirement for disproportionate share hospitals (DSH), children’s hospitals, and rural referral centers or sole community hospitals.

“The United States asked for all our healthcare providers to step up to help defeat this virus,” Stewart said in the statement. “These hospitals have done exactly that. They’ve prioritized the health and safety of our nation over the viability of their facilities. This bill ensures that they can continue to fight the virus without jeopardizing their financial future.”

Without this relief, many entities risk losing their 340B eligibility status. “This bill will ensure that these essential providers will be able to continue to serve as our nation’s health safety net and weather the uncertainty of this public health crisis (340BReport).”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) is a longtime champion of the 340B program and has worked closely with grantees to pass legislation that would protect all 340B covered entities.  Matsui and Stewart are currently the sole sponsors of the bill, however, they were able to persuade 121 House colleagues from both parties to sign a letter to House and Senate party leaders requesting inclusion of protection and flexibility for 340B hospitals in the next COVID-19 relief bill. Unfortunately, this relief was not included in the comprehensive COVID-19 bill the chamber passed in mid-may.

Similar legislation (S. 4160) was introduced into Congress on July 2 by a group of six bipartisan Senators, led by Senator John Thune (R-SD).  This would allow DSH hospitals, children’s hospitals, and rural referral centers or sole community hospitals to maintain 340B eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic Just this past week, S. 4160 was also excluded from Senate Republican’s COVID-19 relief draft.

The best chance of getting 340B hospitals more protection and flexibility during the pandemic is through a major COVID-19 bill. House Democrats, Senate Republicans, and the White House continue to negotiate over the next such bill (340BReport).