HELENA — Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale introduced a bill this week he says would lower the cost of prescription drugs dispensed by hospitals, and other medical facilities, for certain patients.
Through a federal program called 340B, hospitals and medical facilities that dispense prescription drugs can get steep price discounts from manufacturers for drugs sold to patients covered by federal health-insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Rosendale said he believes hospitals and clinics are not always passing these savings on to customers, and instead using them to fund other services.
His bill, dubbed the Drug Pricing Transparency and Accountability Act, would require hospitals to submit claims on all Medicare and Medicaid transactions under 340B, reporting what they paid and what they did with the revenue.
“What it’s going to do is make sure that these hospitals have to have a reporting on what they’re paying for these drugs, and who they’re giving the discounts to, and the medications that they’re not giving the discounts to,” he told MTN News Tuesday.
Hospitals have said they sometimes use the savings from the 340B program to provide free care to uninsured patients, offer free vaccines, provide mental-health care, or other services that aren’t profitable.
Rosendale introduced the bill on Monday.
When asked how a bill introduced by a freshman Republican in the minority might advance, or not, Rosendale said he’s hopeful it can gain some bipartisan support.
“I truly believe that this is … legislation that everyone can support, and say, look, we want to see where these medications are being sold and what they’re being sold for if, they are in fact being purchased through the 340B drug program, which gives the hospitals and the other facilities that are buying them such a dramatic discount,” he said.
Rosendale also said if it doesn’t go anywhere this Congress, the idea can be vetted and presented to his colleagues, who can begin to understand that his approach is one way to reduce drug prices without harming the pharmaceutical industry.