At an AHA-sponsored briefing Nov. 19 on Capitol Hill, hospital leaders urged Congress to protect the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and shared with congressional staff the benefits that the program brings to vulnerable patients.

“People within the communities that Trinity Health serves receive tremendous and likely irreplaceable benefits” from the 340B program, including free or reduced prescription medications, enhanced clinical pharmacy services and other programs and services that enhance the health of individuals and communities, said Bob Ripley, vice president and chief pharmacy officer for Trinity Health in Livonia, Mich.

Leaders from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Saint Thomas Health (part of Ascension Health) in Nashville, Tenn., and Providence Health & Services in Seattle also participated in the briefing.

Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act requires pharmaceutical manufacturers participating in Medicaid to sell many outpatient drugs at discounted prices to health care organizations that care for many uninsured and low-income patients. This, in turn, allows hospitals to stretch limited federal resources to reduce the price of outpatient pharmaceuticals for patients and expand health services to their communities.

At the briefing, the hospital leaders expressed concerns with many aspects of recent 340B guidance recently proposed by the Health Resources and Services Administration – the federal agency responsible for overseeing the program. Among other concerns, they said the proposed policy changes could jeopardize hospitals’ ability to care for vulnerable patients and communities.

David Neu, executive director of pharmacy at Saint Thomas Health, said that HRSA’s proposal to prohibit 340B discounts for discharge prescriptions would have significant negative consequences for patients.

He said an uninsured, diabetic patient would have to pay $288 for an insulin prescription instead of the $16 the patient would have to pay if the drug could be accessed at 340B prices.

“We believe HRSA should leave the patient definition alone and allow discharge prescriptions to be filled under the 340B program,” Neu said.

In conjunction with the briefing, AHA released a new animated video and infographic (see page 5) detailing how hospitals use 340B savings they receive from discounts on high prescription drug prices to reinvest in programs that enhance patient services and access to care.  Click here to watch the video.

See the AHASTAT blog post for more on the briefing. – Pete Davis

340B Hearing