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S.B. 263 Protects 340B Covered Entities from Predatory Practices in Ohio

Just before the end of calendar year 2020 and at the end of its two-year legislative session, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 263, which prohibits insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) from imposing on 340B Covered Entities discriminatory pricing and other contract terms. This is a win for safety net providers and the people they serve, as 340B savings are crucial to their ability to provide high quality, affordable programs and services to patients.

What is the 340B program?

The 340B program provides discounts on outpatient prescription and over-the-counter drugs to certain safety net health providers, called Covered Entities (“CEs”). The program's intent is to stretch scarce federal resources by allowing CEs to increase patient services with the savings realized from participation in the 340B program. Federally Qualified Health Centers (“FQHCs”), FQHC Look-Alikes, Ryan White Clinics, and Disproportionate Share Hospitals are CEs. CEs typically save 18-50% on outpatient drug costs through participation in the program. CEs use 340B savings to provide needed services – such as behavioral health, dental, case management and enhanced pharmacy management – to the most underserved Ohioans such as those who literally cannot afford to pay for health care services.

How does the 340B program work?

Section 340B(a)(1) of the Public Health Service Act requires that the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services enter into a pharmaceutical pricing agreement (“PPA”) with each manufacturer of covered outpatient drugs. Through the PPA manufacturers agree to charge a price for covered outpatient drugs that will not exceed an amount determined under the statute. This is known as the 340B ceiling price. The PPA “shall require that the manufacturer offer each covered entity covered outpatient drugs for purchase at or below the applicable ceiling price if such drug is made available to any other purchaser at any price.”[1] 

What does this mean in the context of SB 263?

SB 263 stops a practice negatively affecting 340B Covered Entities – insurance companies and PBMs diverting funding intended to care for underserved patients and communities to increase their profit margins. This happens when insurance companies and PBMs target 340B providers with discriminatory contracts – contracts that absorb all or part of the savings earned by 340B providers. They do this by reducing reimbursement and/or adding fees not applicable to non-340B providers, and then forcing CEs to either sign the contract or not be able serve patients in their network. Despite insurance companies and PBMs being aware that CEs depend on 340B savings to serve every patient who walks in its doors, regardless of ability to pay, they continue to offer discriminatory contracts to CEs. This practice isn’t just theoretical. One real-life example of a Payor/CE contract includes language that explicitly reimburses the CE more than 30 times less for a 340B brand name drug than for a retail brand name drug. In this same real-life example, not only does the Payor reimburse the CE significantly less for 340B drugs, it entirely wipes out the 340B savings intended for the Covered Entity, as provided in federal law.

The passage of SB 263 will help to end the predatory contracting practices of PBMs and insurance companies and was vital for CEs that rely on 340B savings. For questions about the 340B program or SB 263 please reach out to healthcare attorney Daphne Kackloudis at dlkackloudis@bmdllc.com.

For an update on federal actions being taken to reduce predatory practices of PBMs, see BMD Healthcare and Hospital Law Member Jeana Singleton's article HHS Issues Opinion Regarding Illegal Attempts by Drug Manufacturers to Deny 340B Discounts under Contract Pharmacy Arrangements.

[1] https://www.hrsa.gov/opa/manufacturers/index.html

Changes to Physician Assistant Statutes in Florida

In the last year, there have been many changes to the scope of practice and collaboration/supervision requirements for advanced practice providers such as APRNs and physician assistants in the state of Florida. In a previous Client Alert we discussed House Bill 607, which expanded the autonomous practice of APRNs providing primary care services in Florida.

Ohio Senate Bill 49 – Ohio Expands Lien Rights for Design Professionals

Effective September 30, 2021, Ohio granted limited lien rights to design professionals, including architects, landscape architects, engineers, and surveyors. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 49 into law on July 1, 2021. This new law established a statutory right to lien commercial real estate by Ohio design professionals who, until now, could not file a lien for non-payment of professional services. Senator Vernon Sykes, a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 49, stated that the “legislation ensures that architects, engineers and other designers will get paid for their work, regardless of the outcome of their projects . . . It will support hardworking Ohioans by protecting the value of their labor . . ..”

Primary Care Practice Officially Defined in Florida for APRNs Practicing Autonomously

As many providers in Florida are aware, House Bill 607 (the “Bill”), which was passed in February of last year, gives certain APRNs in Florida the ability to practice autonomously. The only catch is that they must work in primary practice. When the Bill was initially passed, there was question as to what was exactly considered primary care, absent a definition from the Florida Board of Nursing. However, as of February 25, 2021, “primary care practice” has officially been defined.

Part II of the No Surprises Act

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) published Part II of the No Surprises Act on September 30, 2021, which will take effect on January 1, 2022. The new guidance, in large part, focuses on the independent dispute resolution process that was briefly mentioned in Part I of the Act. In addition, there is now guidance on good faith estimate requirements, the patient-provider dispute resolution processes, and added external review provisions.

Safer Federal Workforce Task Force - Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has issued its Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors (Guidance). Note that the Guidance applies only to “covered contracts,” which are contracts that include the clause (Clause) set forth in Sec. 2(a) of Executive Order 14042 (Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors). The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FARC) is to conduct rulemaking and take related action to ensure that the Clause is incorporated into federal contracts. Until that happens, federal contractors likely will not see the Clause in its contracts. Following is a broad summary of the Guidance.