Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to list the website seen on protesters’ signs. An earlier version credited a different website for an organization not affiliated with the demonstration at Bucshon’s office.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Chanting could be heard along Wabash Avenue on Wednesday morning as protestors made their voices heard regarding proposed changes to the 340B drug program by U.S. Congressman Larry Buschon. 

“We are here protesting Mr. Bucshon’s decision to implement legislation that would decimate the coverage of people living with HIV and AIDS and other illnesses through a program called 340B,” Tracy Jones, National Director of Mobilization & Campaigns with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said. “(The coverage) has been in existence since the Vietnam War and really helps people to sustain their life through medication.”

The legislation Bucshon has recently introduced is H.R. 3290 which aims to “ensure transparency and oversight of the 340B drug discount program.” Bucshon also stated, “The 340B drug pricing program is an important tool that was created by Congress to help hospitals and other covered entities meet the healthcare needs of low-income and uninsured patients by purchasing drugs at substantial discounts, and I am a supporter of the program. However, recent media reports in the Wall Street JournalNew York Times, and other outlets have raised questions about how hospitals and others use the 340B program. If you asked me to tell you if these news stories are true or not – I couldn’t tell you at this point because of a lack of transparency in the program.”

Tracy Jones National Director of Director of Mobilization & Campaigns with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation holding protest signs

However, Jones continued to stress the program has not only been helping people in need of affordable health care for many years, but it doesn’t impact taxpayers.

“Because we don’t have universal medical care, this is a way that we’re able to really keep the cost around drug coverage low,” Jones explained. “All we want is for Mr. Bucshon to let 340 be. It costs very little money, it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dollar, and it is a wonderful program that has been in effect for decades.”

The transparency of the 340B drug pricing program has been an ongoing discussion. When WTWO reached out to the congressman for comments in response to today’s protest, Bucshon’s Office responded.

“A lack of transparency in the 340B program isn’t my opinion, it’s the assessment of the Government Accountability Office that has highlighted this in multiple reports, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra, who told the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March that the program “doesn’t have the transparency we need”, and the Biden Administration, whose budget for this year called for greater transparency and auditing of the program. My legislation doesn’t change the 340B program’s benefits in any way, it simply asks hospitals participating in the program to report to the federal government on things like their patient mix, the total amount of charity care they provide, their payer shortfall, and their total 340B savings across a year. This basic level of transparency will provide information about the patients who are being served by the 340B program and will give all Americans the confidence that the program is being properly utilized to benefit patients” 

U.S. Congressman Larry Bucshon

The following is an excerpt from the website let340B.org, which was seen on numerous signs at Wednesday’s protest: “There is transparency in the 340B program. To participate in the 340B program, eligible organizations and covered entities must register and be enrolled with the 340B program and comply with all 340B program requirements. The 340B statute allows the Health Resources and Services Administration to audit covered entities to ensure compliance. HRSA has now conducted more than 800 audits of covered entities. However, there is little manufacturer transparency in 340B. Manufacturers have complete freedom to hide their pricing information from the public.”

The protesters gathered outside of Bucshon’s downtown Terre Haute office this morning, with signs and t-shirts that read, “Bucshon is full of bull,” “Let 340B,” and  “Don’t let Rep. Larry Buschon Bully the 340B program.” Several people came from outside the state from places like Chicago, Cleveland, and Atlanta to support the community and protest the proposed changes to the program. 

“These are activists from all over the country that care so deeply about people living with HIV and other programs that 340B supports,” Jones said. “We really want to make our message known because we think it’s too quiet right now. People have gotten too comfortable and they don’t realize that they have power when they speak up.”