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Proposed Review of 340B Drug Discounts Irks Hospitals

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 26, 2014

Trotter

Beth Feldpush
Senior Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, for America's Essential Hospitals

"The 340B program generates valuable savings on outpatient drugs for these eligible hospitals to reinvest in community programs such as free vaccines, mental health clinics, community dialysis programs or free or reduced priced prescription drugs. To qualify for the 340B Drug Pricing Program, hospitals must serve a disproportionate share of low-income and uninsured people in their communities or be critical access hospitals providing essential services to their rural communities. In addition, these hospitals must provide services to low income populations that do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare."

'Consider the Source'
Beth Feldpush, senior vice president, policy and advocacy, for America's Essential Hospitals, says anyone reading the AIM 340B report should "consider the source behind it."

Feldpush says a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office found that that 340B program was fulfilling the program obligations. "To me that says the program really is benefitting patients and giving hospitals and providers the ability to provide drug and other services to patients that they otherwise would not be able to do if the 340B program was not in place."

However, the GAO report also validates concerns raised by AIM 340B. Federal auditors called the Health Resources and Services Administration's oversight of the 340B program "inadequate" and overly reliant on "self policing to ensure compliance."

"For example, the agency does not periodically confirm eligibility for all covered entity types, and has never conducted an audit to determine whether program violations have occurred," the GAO report said. "Moreover, the 340B program has increasingly been used in settings, such as hospitals, where the risk of improper purchase of 340B drugs is greater, in part because they serve both 340B and non-340B eligible patients."

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