12 Feb Washington Examiner: Trump administration drug pricing policy hurts the most vulnerable
“Here in Southern West Virginia, we are on the front lines of taking care of all patients regardless of their ability to pay. While we are fortunate to live in a beautiful state, West Virginia has much higher rates of cancer, opioid addiction and heart disease than the national average. Our patients – many of whom are low-income, elderly and either uninsured or underinsured – depend on us to provide them with high-quality, low-cost specialized services and care.
At Charleston Area Medical Center, we are proud of our mission, but it comes at a cost. Just last year, we had an operating loss of $30 million and had to reduce our workforce by 300 employees, including many caregivers. Our financial situation, and those of our patients, would be much worse off if it were not for a vital drug discount program called 340B. We rely on our 340B savings to meet the needs of the low-income and rural patients we serve, including Medicare beneficiaries.
Former President George H.W. Bush signed the 340B program into law 25 years ago with broad, bipartisan support. 340B enables hospitals and clinics that serve a disproportionate share of poor and rural Americans to access prescription drugs at a discount so that care providers can “stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.” These discounts cost the taxpayers nothing but save nearly $6 billion a year for hospitals and clinics that serve our most vulnerable. Those savings are vital to hospitals’ ability to serve patients in need, yet they represent only 1.3 percent of total drug sales in the U.S.”