With 340B being back in the news and with beneficial legislation in the works, I wanted to take the opportunity to reshare my thoughts.
Created in 1992, 340B was meant to serve as a safety net to ensure that uninsured and indigent patients have access to prescription medicines.
Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons including a lack of proper oversight, the 340B program is being abused. While many hospitals treat it appropriately, some have been taking advantage of the program by treating nearly every patient — whether uninsured or insured — as if they qualify for 340B. They pay the deeply discounted rate but then bill insurance companies — or even the consumer — for full-priced prescriptions and pocket the difference.
Fast forward several years since our first piece on this topic and little has changed.
However, as I wrote about in a Bluegrass Beacon column earlier this year, bipartisan legislation has been introduced to finally bring accountability to 340B.
Sponsored by Reps. Larry Bucshon, R-IN, and Scott Peters, D-CA, the 340B PAUSE Act will increase the data reporting and transparency requirements of 340B while putting a temporary pause on new enrollment of Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) and any new offsite facilities of these hospitals.
The 340B PAUSE Act provides an excellent opportunity for our elected officials to take another look at this well-intentioned program and help ensure it’s doing what Congress intended: acting as an important safety net instead of a purely for-profit center some hospitals have twisted it into.