10 May Opinion: Hospitals use drug program to improve care
“The recent Union Leader column by Thomas E. Blonski titled “Vulnerable patients need Maggie Hassan’s HELP” calls into question the integrity of the 340B Prescription Drug Savings program, as well as the commitment of New Hampshire hospitals who serve our state’s most vulnerable and underserved citizens. Blonski clearly misses the mark in understanding how hospitals use the 340B program to serve patients.
While Blonski suggests that hospitals who participate in the 340B program do not pass along the savings they receive from the program to their patients, the 340B program does in fact generate valuable savings for eligible hospitals to provide free or reduced priced prescription medications to vulnerable patient populations. In addition, it allows hospitals to reinvest in health care programs that enhance patient services, offer free vaccines, and provide services such as those within mental health clinics, medication management programs and community health programs. Currently, 14 New Hampshire hospitals qualify and participate in the 340B program.
Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act requires pharmaceutical manufacturers participating in Medicaid to sell outpatient drugs at discounted prices to health care organizations that care for many uninsured and low-income patients. Participating hospitals can achieve savings of 25 to 50 percent on pharmaceutical purchases. To qualify for the 340B program, hospitals must serve a disproportionate share of low-income and uninsured people, or be critical access hospitals providing essential services to their rural communities. These hospitals must also provide services to low-income populations that do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. And let us not forget that the 340B program involves no federal spending.”