What is the 340B Prescription Drug Program?
The 340B Drug Discount Program is a US federal government program created in 1992 that requires drug manufacturers to sell outpatient drugs at a significant discount to safety-net hospitals, like Self Regional Healthcare, that serve a high number of low-income Medicare and Medicaid patients. Congress created the program to enable these providers to “stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”
Self Regional averages an annual savings of $6.4 million as a direct result of the 340B drug discount program. These savings have a direct impact on our ability to provide vital healthcare services to our seven-county service area, and particularly has an impact on our ability to serve our most vulnerable citizens through charity care and community outreach grants.
Many may not be aware, but Self Regional is required by the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Self Regional provides millions of dollars in charity care to our community every year:
- 2019 projected: $40 million
- 2018: $30 million
- 2017: $36 million
- 2016: $33 million
Without the savings realized from the 340B Drug Discount Program, these charity care expenses would have to come from other sources of revenue within the organization, thus threatening our ability to offer a full range of services to our community.
Some of the most vital healthcare services available to the low-income and vulnerable citizens in our community are delivered by the many non-profits that are supported by Self Regional’s Community Grant program. Just a few examples of the grants we have given these organizations during our 2018 fiscal year:
- Clinica Gratis: $185,000
- Meg’s House: $74,500
- Greenwood Food Bank: $43,000
- Healthy Learners: $50,000
- Greater Greenwood United Ministries: $46,830
And many more. During 2014-2018 Self Regional’s Community Grant program distributed an average of $612,000 annually in support of local nonprofits. Without the savings realized from the 340B Drug Discount Program we would be unable to make such significant donations to the work these fine organizations do.
340B is under threat
It will come as no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry would like to bring the 340B program to an end. Powerful industry lobbyists are pressuring congress to significantly scale back the prescription drug discounts available through this program. In the face of declining reimbursements over the last few years, hospitals like Self Regional who serve some of the sickest and most vulnerable low-income patients in our region, would struggle to continue delivering high quality care if these 340B discounts were reduced or removed.