Shining a Light on the 340B Drug Pricing Program for Our Patients and Communities
For more than 30 years, the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program has helped hospitals improve patient access to care and medication. As healthcare providers, we know the value of this program because we know the stories it makes possible, such as cancer treatment in rural areas, affordable medications in emergency rooms in low-income neighborhoods, and essential prenatal care in underserved communities.
I am pleased to report that ASHP is helping share these 340B stories with an even broader audience. Along with our partners at 340B Health, we are participating in a new digital ad campaign focused on educating federal legislators and other decision makers in Washington, D.C., on how the program supports patients every day across our country. The “Because of 340B” campaign highlights how savings from the program are used to help seniors afford their medications, provide vital cancer care, offer services to children, and protect access to healthcare in rural areas.
In addition, we recently launched a Spotlight on 340B series on ASHP’s News Center. These stories detail the ways in which our health systems use 340B savings: from offering cancer care in rural North Carolina to getting affordable medications to emergency room patients from Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. If you have not already, please read these stories about your colleagues — and let us know yours.
Amid ongoing attempts to chip away at the 340B program, showing the impact of 340B is more critical than ever.
Congress established the 340B program in 1992 to help health systems stretch their limited federal resources to better serve vulnerable communities and offer necessary services, which have included more comprehensive ambulatory pharmacy services, free care for uninsured patients, medication management, and community health programs – all at no cost to taxpayers.
The law allows safety-net hospitals and other “covered entities” to purchase certain outpatient medications at discounted prices from drug manufacturers. Providers use the difference between that discounted amount and what insurance pays for the medications to invest in programs and services they would not otherwise be able to afford.
But the 340B program has faced a series of challenges in recent years from drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers that threaten to jeopardize these vital patient services.
ASHP has stood firm in its opposition to their tactics, urging the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit manufacturers from refusing to provide discounts. In addition, ASHP called on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to restore additional payments that it owed 340B hospitals. We are watching carefully to make sure this remedy does not result in cuts to other outpatient services.
ASHP is also developing model state legislation to protect contract pharmacy arrangements under 340B. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, we are happy to see some recent state-level successes on this issue. In Louisiana, for instance, ASHP members helped lead an effort to pass legislation stating drug manufacturers are violating state law if they restrict sales to contract pharmacies. Our Louisiana members and their partners made a strong case that included examples of how manufacturers’ restrictions were affecting care of patients at rural hospitals and HIV clinics, among other settings. Once again, the power of patient stories was on display.
Let’s continue keeping our patients at the center of the ongoing debate over the 340B program. It is their care at stake.
Thank you for all you do for your patients and our profession.
Posted on November 2, 2023