The AHA today submitted comments on the Department of Health and Human Services’ blueprint to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. The letter provides input on issues related to competition, transparency in drug pricing, national drug spending data, value-based payment arrangements, site-neutral payments for drugs, competitive bidding for certain Part B drugs, and transitioning coverage of some or all drugs from Medicare Part B to Part D, among other issues. “Just as many patients face the challenge of high drug prices at the pharmacy, hospitals, as major drug purchasers, face significant resource constraints and trade-offs as spending on drugs increases,” the letter notes. “The primary driver behind this growth in drug spending is higher prices, not increased utilization. …We see both higher launch prices for new drugs and increases in prices for existing drugs. Drug manufacturers have full control over the initial price for a drug and any subsequent price increases.”
AHA also responded in a separate letter to provisions related to the 340B drug savings program, calling any focus on the 340B program as part of a plan to lower drug prices “misplaced.” The 340B program “is working as Congress intended to help hospitals and other covered entities expand access to lifesaving prescription drugs and comprehensive health care services in vulnerable communities across the country, including to low-income and uninsured individuals,” the letter states. “Added regulatory requirements to curtail the 340B program, particularly for hospitals, would only benefit drug manufacturers, who could drive up already sky-high margins by forcing hospitals to pay higher prices for a portion of their drugs. In the end, it is the patients and the communities served by the 340B hospitals that would ultimately pay the price through limited access to needed services.”