16 Aug Celebrating 30 Years of 340B
By 340B Matters
The 340B Drug Discount Program celebrates its 30th birthday this year. Over the past three decades, it has helped safety-net hospitals and clinics across the country care for underserved populations – just as Congress intended.
These nonprofit healthcare organizations are on the front line. It’s their mission to serve all patients regardless of their ability to pay. Many can’t. That’s why a bi-partisan Congress created 340B to help these providers “stretch scarce federal resources” and offset the cost of providing uncompensated care to millions of Americans annually. President George H.W. Bush signed 340B into law in 1992. The need for the program has grown over the years. In 2020, the total amount of care provided by 340B hospitals came to a whopping $42 billion.
The best part? The program costs taxpayers nothing.
340B is funded by the highly profitable pharmaceutical industry, which in return for providing discounts to safety-net providers, gains access to the lucrative Medicare and Medicaid drug markets. Big Pharma still makes money selling to 340B health providers, even at a discount. Contrary to Big Pharma spin, 340B was never intended as a direct patient-benefit program. But 340B has indirectly delivered an enormous positive impact on the quality of care received by outpatients since it began. Savings from the program help fund free and low-cost medications as well as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, dental, and primary care clinics that serve patients most in need.
These are real people and the program saves lives.
Tracy Kimball struggled to pay for anti-rejection medications required for his transplanted kidneys. University of Illinois Health provides them at an affordable price thanks to 340B. Erika Aguero was uninsured and diagnosed with breast cancer. Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago gave her a 340B-supported discount card that allowed Aguero to receive the eight rounds of chemo she needed on site as well as seven more she required at home. Debra Abercrumbie was having trouble keeping her diabetes under control. MetroHealth System in Cleveland, OH provided her with coordinated care and financial help with her medications. That included steep discounts on Debra’s insulin and the syringes needed for her injections – all thanks to the program.
Good health policy makes for good outcomes. Millions of lives have been improved by hospitals and clinics in the 340B program. Congress recognizes the success. Despite the steady efforts of drug manufacturers to destroy 340B, it has enjoyed strong bi-partisan support on Capitol Hill and over successive Republican and Democratic administrations. And just this year, the United States Supreme Court protected the 340B drug discount program in an important case.
On the 30th anniversary of this life-saving program, Big Pharma companies should be lauding its success and the profits the program has generated for them, instead of working overtime to take money out of the pockets of our country’s healthcare safety-net providers.
The program costs taxpayers zero and pays big dividends to Americans every day.
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