February 23, 2017—Safety-net healthcare providers need a clear strategy and focused action to oppose drug industry efforts to dismantle the 340B drug discount program, two 340B hospital leaders argue in a new peer-reviewed professional journal on leadership, administration, and management in healthcare. [ms-protect-content id=”2799″]
Drug manufacturers are pressing for laws and regulations that would severely limit providers’ 340B savings on drugs and cause many to drop out, warn Ted Slafsky and David Ramsey in their article in Management in Healthcare. “The outcome? Reduced access to medications and clinical services for the poor and other vulnerable populations,” they say. Slafsky is President and Chief Executive Officer of the hospital group 340B Health; Ramsey is President and CEO of CAMC Health System in Charleston, W.Va.
Charleston Area Medical Center, a 900-bed teaching hospital that supplies highly specialized and safety-net care in central and southern West Virginia, would suffer greatly – as would its patients – if the drug industry succeeds in reducing 340B into a fraction of its former self.
The hospital provides more than $73 million in uncompensated care annually, Slafsky and Ramsey write. Its $8 million a year in 340B savings goes toward:
- Free outpatient and inpatient care for the uninsured, valued at $10 million a year
- A free clinic near the hospital’s main campus that treats 16,000 patients annually
- Partially offsetting uncompensated care and Medicaid losses
Slafsky and Ramsey say it is crucial for hospitals to publicly document how they use their 340B savings to help poor, uninsured, and underinsured patients. “Every provider has an important and compelling story to tell,” they say. They recommend that hospitals:
- Post a one-sheet “impact profile” on their website describing how they use 340B savings to benefit underserved patients
- Write pro-340B op-eds for their local newspapers
- Let their members of Congress know how 340B savings enable them to care for the underserved
- Work more closely with 340BHealth, in particular with its Executive and Oncology Councils
“The 340B program is essential to the future of a strong healthcare safety net in the United States,” Slafsky and Ramsey conclude. “Tens of millions of underserved patients depend on it every year. We need to ensure that the healthcare providers that take care of these patients can continue this critical mission.” [/ms-protect-content]