Alexander Says 340B Program May Need Improvement To Fulfill Purpose Of Helping Low-Income Patients

Thursday, March 15, 2018

At the Senate Health Committee’s first hearing looking at the 340B Discount Drug Program, Chairman Lamar Alexander on Thursday said, “I hope we can focus first on the purpose of the 340B program and if it is fulfilling that purpose, and second, should there be changes in the law so that the program can fulfill the purpose?

 

0001pt;">“The 340B Drug Pricing Program was created by Congress in 1992 to help qualifying hospitals and clinics that treat low-income patients, by requiring drug manufactures that participate in Medicaid to provide discounts on prescription drugs or treatments to these hospitals and clinics. The hospitals and clinics may then provide the drugs at the reduced price to low-income patients or they can sell the drugs at a higher price to patients who have insurance and then keep that money and use it to provide care to low-income patients or for other purposes.

 

“Today there is confusion about the program’s goals and requirements because Congress did not make clear in the 1992 law what the purpose of the program actually is. The closest the law came to defining the purpose is a House of Representatives report accompanying the legislative text, which says the program was created to ‘Permit covered entities to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.’ This has usually meant helping low-income patients afford their medications and health care, and to ensure that qualifying health centers can provide care to their most vulnerable patients.

 

“The Health Resources and Services Administration, the Health and Human Services agency that oversees the program, estimated that hospitals and clinics purchased $12 billion of discounted prescription drugs through the 340B program in 2015. 340B hospitals saved $6 billion in 2015 by buying prescription drugs at a discount. That $6 billion represented about 1.3 percent of the total purchases of prescription drugs in the United States in 2015.

 

“In other words, about 1.3 percent of the total amount spent on prescription drugs in the United States is devoted to the hospitals and clinics that qualify for the 340B program. Hospitals will point out that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, they spent more than $50 billion in 2013 on uncompensated care –that’s service to patients that is not reimbursed. Hospitals and clinics use the $6 billion in savings they generate through the 340B program to help offset the money they spend in uncompensated care. On the other hand, we also know there are instances where 340B hospitals and clinics may not be using the savings to help low-income patients afford their medications or to provide care.

 

“I hope today we can learn more about the program, and how the program might be improved so hospitals and clinics can continue to provide low-income patients with help to afford their health care.”

 

Senator Alexander’s full prepared remarks are here.


Morning Pointe Residents Visit The Chattanooga Zoo

Taking advantage of the crisp fall weather, the residents of Morning Pointe of Collegedale at Greenbriar Cove paid a visit to the Chattanooga Zoo. They spent the day enjoying the cool breeze and sunshine—as well as making plenty of new animal friends. “It was a beautiful day for the residents at Morning Pointe of Collegedale at Greenbriar Cove to enjoy some time exploring the ... (click for more)

Lantern At Morning Pointe Hosts Trick-Or-Treating Event On Oct. 27

The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence, Chattanooga is hosting trick-or-treating activities on the afternoon of Oct. 27, from 2-3 p.m.   The event will be open to the community, and there will be a costume contest with winners.   The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence, Chattanooga is at 7620 Shallowford Road, ... (click for more)

City "Moves Away" From $4 Million Light Show On Walnut Street Bridge

The city is no longer pursuing a plan for a $4,050,000 light show on the Walnut Street Bridge. Dennis Malone, assistant city engineer, told City Council members on Tuesday, "We have moved away from that project." The council had earlier pulled capital funding that had been proposed for the "Ripples of Light" on the historic "walking bridge" that dates to 1891. “Ripples ... (click for more)

Developer Of Publix Grocery At St. Elmo To Go Before Variance Board

The developer of a planned Publix grocery in St. Elmo will go before the City Board of Zoning Appeals on Nov. 7 seeking three variances. Mike Price of MAP Engineers said the grocery has been working with community members to try to come up with an acceptable plan for the site where the former Mt. Vernon Restaurant and Pizza Hut are located. There has been controversy over ... (click for more)

Why Are Joda Thongnopnua And Phil Bredesen Downplaying Their Democratic Values?

For the past several months, the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point. “Their Resistance” is to oppose anything and everything Republicans are doing to deliver a stronger economy and better economic opportunities for all Americans.  Yet, I find it very interesting that the public outcry we are seeing from the Democrats on a national level is nowhere to be found when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Tennessee Week’

For over 50 years I have heard the line, “There are two things you must never do on ‘The Third Saturday of October.’ You mustn’t ever marry and try not to die because, in either case, the preacher won’t show up.” He’ll be watching “The Game.” Ever since Oct 18, 1901, Tennessee and Alabama have been going at it and that inaugural game set the tone as well as the standard for all ... (click for more)