NICA and 57 Groups Sign Letter to HHS Secretary Calling for Fixes to the 340B Drug Discount Program.
The National Infusion Center Association (NICA) and 57 other patient groups, health care organizations, and advocates sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Alex Azar II applauding the Administration’s recent actions to fix the 340B program and calling on HHS to continue its efforts so vulnerable or uninsured patients benefit from the program rather than bad actors aiming to game the system.
“We recognize the important role the program plays for true safety net facilities such as federally qualified health centers, Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics, black lung clinics, and other federal grantees and are dedicated to ensuring the program reaches the vulnerable or uninsured patients it was intended to help. Our organizations believe in fixing 340B so patients and true safety net facilities are the ones benefitting,” the letter states.
While participation has increased, studies have shown that the 340B program’s growth is not always associated with additional safety-net services for patients. Instead, bad actors have abused the program to pad their bottom lines by acquiring independent and community clinics — shifting care into more expensive hospital settings and driving up costs for vulnerable or uninsured patients.
The letter notes, “Economists writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the 340B program may cause a ‘shift toward more expensive drugs because profit margins will in general be larger,’ due to the ‘spread’ hospitals can make on the program. Additionally, the Community Oncology Alliance has shown that to generate more profit through increased 340B prescriptions, 340B hospitals are acquiring independent community practices at an alarming rate and consolidating care into the costlier hospital setting – where treatment is 60 percent more expensive than in a community clinic. This trend results in patients being forced to pay more in a hospital setting and having to incur higher cost sharing.”
It concludes, “Our organizations are dedicated to fixing the 340B program so it can benefit the patients it was created to serve. We hope HHS will harness its current authorities to provide increased oversight of the 340B program via guidance or other means and clarify the program’s vague rules so that it operates in the best interests of patients, not hospital profits.”
National Infusion Center Association (NICA) is a nonprofit organization founded to improve patient access to in-office infusion. Since its inception in 2010, NICA has worked to support infusion patients and their office-based care settings through advocacy, education and resource development. As the only organization dedicated to preserving patient access to provider-administered parenteral medications in more economical and accessible alternatives to hospital sites of care, NICA strives to: connect infusion providers and patients with the resources they need; collaborate with stakeholders to develop all-win solutions; and advocate on behalf of this historically underrepresented patient group.