14 Dec New Congress Must Resist Pharma Misinformation and Protect 340B
By 340B Matters
The midterm elections have taken place and the next Congress will be sworn in next month. There’s a large incoming freshman class that will quickly need to understand Big Pharma’s greedy and illegal efforts to destroy the 340B Drug Discount Program.
With the Republicans gaining a narrow majority in the House, expect a raft of bills aiming to eviscerate 340B, which requires drug makers to provide discount medications to safety-net healthcare providers that treat high numbers of low-income patients. Big Pharma has an historic edge with the GOP and will undoubtedly want to see Congress move on this issue as quickly as possible.
Freshman will hear a litany of misleading and false facts about the program – including those about its intent. Here’s the truth: A bi-partisan Congress designed 340B in 1992 to help nonprofit hospitals and clinics stretch resources. It is not, and never has been, intended as a direct patient benefit program.
340B discounts help pay for a panoply of services, including trauma care, diabetes and cancer clinics, medication management and low-cost/free medications. In return for providing discounts to America’s neediest non-profit health care providers, Congress gave the drug industry access to the mega lucrative Medicare and Medicaid markets.
Every freshman member of Congress should know this: 340B doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny.
Although Big Pharma still makes millions selling 340B drugs for less, avarice powers their profit-hungry machine. Looking to boost profits, leading manufacturers have illegally stopped providing 340B discounts to hospitals that use local pharmacies to fill prescriptions. The illicit money grubbing has cost safety-net providers $6 billion and counting.
Incoming lawmakers must inquire about the nonprofit hospitals in their districts. It is likely that many are being helped by the 340B program. These facilities are leading engines for employment and invaluable providers of healthcare to constituents.
Weakening this safety-net is bad policy, and even worse politics.
With Democrats still holding the Senate, it will be harder for the drug industry to reach its goal of destroying the program. That’s the good news. The reality is that Big Pharma will storm the Hill anyway with misinformation about the program’s intent, little regard for patients, and hopes for even higher profits. Support from every lawmaker will be essential.
We offer a special congratulations to Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), a 340B champion who won a hard-fought race and is now moving up to a leadership position. We also thank retiring Representatives David McKinley (R-WV), John Katko (R-NY) and Cynthia Axne (D-IA) for their strong support of the program as well as Doris Matsui (D-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD).
Together we can protect the 340B program and the patients it benefits.
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