Statement by 340B Health President and CEO Ted Slafsky On the 340B Drug Discount Program’s 25th Anniversary
Washington, D.C., November 7, 2017—This month marks the 25th anniversary of the 340B drug discount program. Passed by Congress with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the 340B program has been a bulwark against rising drug prices for our nation’s healthcare safety net and the patients they serve. The money that safety-net hospitals, health centers, clinics, and others save on drugs by participating in 340B helps them stretch every scarce dollar further to provide higher-quality care to more and more low-income and otherwise vulnerable people.
Since the program began, the cost of prescription drugs has skyrocketed 666 percent in the United States and they are projected to rise another 66 percent between now and 2025 far outstripping inflation in other consumer products. Price hikes are making it difficult for people to afford their care. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1 in 4 Americans report having trouble paying for drugs prescribed for them in the last year.
340B is one of the few effective ways the U.S. has reined in drug prices. Drug makers are required to sell their products at a discount to clinics and hospitals serving patients who are low-income, uninsured, or underinsured. The savings allow these institutions to serve the needs of all members of their communities. And 340B doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.
Savings generated from 340B drug discounts “are reinvested into programs that enhance patient care,” including free or affordable medication to vulnerable patients, a bipartisan majority of U.S. House members observed in a recent letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. In a similar vein, a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senate members recently wrote that the 340B program “has been critical to supporting our safety-net providers in helping low-income and vulnerable individuals across the country access affordable, comprehensive health care services,”
Perhaps because of its success, 340B has been a target of attacks by special interests trying to limit its reach. Recently the federal government issued a new regulation that will slash what Medicare pays for drugs administered in 340B hospitals. This misguided action does nothing to reduce the cost of drugs and doesn’t save money for Medicare or the millions of seniors Medicare serves and must be reversed.
As we celebrate 25 years of better health thanks to 340B, we must recommit ourselves to the next 25 years to make sure 340B continues to achieve its vital goals. 340B Health continues to work with our members and allies to make sure this program will meet the needs of patients today, tomorrow, and well into the future. America needs the 340B program now more than ever!