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They don’t agree on the details, but both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are ready to ramp up oversight of a federal drug discount program that hospitals generally support — and drug makers tend to want to rein in.

On its face, the increasing congressional scrutiny seems like a win for the pharmaceutical industry, which has bucked against the status quo. But lawmakers at a Tuesday hearing on the program, known as 340B, signaled an interest in taking aim at both industries.


Drug makers, on the one hand, have been pushing lawmakers to “clarify the intent” of the program as a way to limit the number of hospitals that participate and seek the discounts, and to limit how they use the discounts they get. Hospitals, on the other hand, have pushed for changes that would ensure drug makers don’t break the program’s rules and overcharge them. Under the 340B program, drug makers must give eligible hospitals discounts on drugs. Hospitals get reimbursed at higher rates when they use the drugs, and they say they use the difference in part to help cover costs for low-income patients.

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