In case you missed it, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed data on hospital participation in the 340B program in Georgia and found that some hospitals are raking in huge profits – with no benefit to patients.
According to the article:
- “Under 340B, a qualifying hospital can get deep discounts, charge insured patients the regular price and use the profits however the hospital sees fit. So, if you’re a cancer patient getting treatment at a hospital-owned chemotherapy center, the hospital can get a huge discount on your medications, charge you and your insurance company regular prices and hold onto profits — perhaps for charity care, or maybe to pad the CEO’s next bonus.”
- “Hospitals do not have to file reports on what they do with the savings. The federal agency that oversees the program doesn’t even have the authority to track how the hospitals use the profits, let alone demand that the money be used on care for patients who can’t afford treatments.”
- “The evolution of 340B represents one of the many oddities of health care financing. In this case, a program that was designed to make it more affordable to provide care to needy people today offers the biggest financial payoffs to hospitals that have lots of paying patients.”
As part of her research, the reporter spoke with physicians to get their take on the program. One oncologist explained that “340B is a 25-year-old system that leaves out key players, demands too little accountability and needs to get back to its original mission.”
While there are a number of 340B hospitals and clinics using the program as intended – to help uninsured or vulnerable patients access medicines at safety-net facilities – the article calls attention to the bad actors that are slowly breaking it.
Since the 340B program was created a quarter of a century ago, the U.S. health care system has greatly evolved. It’s long past time for the 340B program to evolve. In order to maintain the long-term stability of the program, it is important to fully review and update 340B.
Learn more at PhRMA.org/340B.
Nicole Longo Nicole is senior director of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on Medicare, 340B, importation and more. She previously worked for a D.C.-based public affairs firm where she assisted a wide range of clients with communications efforts on everything from trade policy to agriculture policy to health care policy. Outside the office, Nicole can be found trying new restaurants (usually Italian), taking an occasional barre class and cheering on the Cincinnati Bengals.