More than 20 years ago, Congress created the 340B Drug Pricing Program to allow eligible hospitals and health systems to stretch limited resources and expand access to care for vulnerable patients. But despite a proven track record of increasing patient access to vital medical services and decreasing government spending, some want changes that would weaken the program.
340B hospitals continue to help care for low-income and uninsured patients. That is why the AHA sponsored today’s Capitol Hill briefing at which hospitals leaders shared examples of how their 340B programs help their patients and communities. Participating hospitals included Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia; Saint Thomas Health part of Ascension Health in Nashville, Tenn.; Trinity Health in Livonia, Mich.; and Providence Health & Services in Seattle.
At the briefing, legislators and their staff heard how hospitals use the savings they receive from discounts on high prescription drug prices to reinvest in programs that enhance patient services and access to care.
They heard how hospitals use 340B savings to provide local access to drugs and treatments for cancer patients, clinical pharmacy services, community outreach programs, free vaccinations, transportation to patients for follow-up appointments and many other services to their communities.
In August, the Health Resources and Services Administration – the federal agency responsible for administering the 340B program – proposed new policies for the 340 program. Taken together, the changes could jeopardize eligible hospitals’ ability to care for vulnerable patients and communities.
At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry and its supporters continue to make unsubstantiated claims about the program to persuade Congress to scale it back significantly.
Hospital leaders are concerned that scaling back the 340B program would force hospitals to curtail or even eliminate services that are essential to keeping patients and communities healthy. Congress should heed the concerns of providers on the front lines of care – and toss aside the arguments of those who wish only to add to the record profits of pharmaceutical companies.