Congress should preserve the 340B Drug Pricing Program because of the many benefits to low-income and uninsured patients, the AHA said today in a statement submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

In a statement submitted to the committee for a hearing examining the 340B program, AHA included examples of how large, urban-based medical centers and small, rural hospitals alike use the savings they receive on the discounted drugs to reinvest in programs that enhance patient services and access to care, as well as providing free or reduced-priced prescription drugs to poorer residents.

“Given the increasingly high cost of pharmaceuticals, the 340B program remains critical” and scaling it back would bring “devastating consequences for patients and communities,” the AHA said.  

Officials from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Pharmacy Affairs, which oversees the 340B program, Government Accountability Office and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General testified at the hearing. 

The AHA’s statement noted that the 340B program is small but offers big benefits. It accounts for only 2% of the $325 billion in annual drug purchases made in the U.S. In addition, 340B hospitals provided $28.6 billion in uncompensated care in 2013, which is four times the amount of drugs purchased through the 340B program.

To qualify for the program, hospitals must serve a large proportion of uninsured or low-income patients. These include certain disproportionate share hospitals, children’s hospitals, critical access hospitals, rural referral centers, sole community hospitals and cancer hospitals.  

As part of its advocacy efforts on behalf of the 340B program, the AHA has released videos of hospital leaders describing how the program benefits their patients and communities. To watch the videos, tune in here