Although unknown to most people, and not yet mentioned in the news, the federal 340B drug discount program affects many needy patients in Central Illinois.
Originally, the 340B drug discount program aimed to improve care for uninsured or vulnerable patients by having drug manufacturers subsidize the cost of medicines for providers that primarily serve these patients. These patients had to be qualified per guidelines based on need, but the 340B drug discount program no longer delivers on this goal, and needs to be updated to better assure needed health outcomes. Well-intentioned but poorly designed policy tweaks have put the program on a path where hospitals and large corporate pharmacies are pocketing revenue intended to help vulnerable patients.
As an owner operating a pharmacy and partnering with Crossing Healthcare, a Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC) whose mission is to provide care to the medically underserved, I know the dollars generated through the 340B program directly impact the care provided to those in need. These patients would not be able to afford or receive necessary medication without this FQHC or this prescription program.
Instead of using the savings from these subsidized drugs to provide care for needy patients, more and more for-profit providers and mega retail pharmacies are keeping the savings and padding their bottom lines.
To truly help the neediest patients, we need to root out abuses within the 340B program, fix the lack of accountability and transparency, and modernize this program. I urge Congress to pay attention to the 340B drug discount program and make sure it’s working as intended to help the neediest patients access the care they need.
Dale Colee, Decatur