340B Health

Provider Faces of 340B


The unconscionably high price of EpiPen allergy emergency autoinjectors is one of the top healthcare stories of 2016. Fortunately, hospitals in the 340B drug discount program can help patients who can't afford EpiPens or other lifesaving medicines. Here's a case in point.

Not that long ago, a Wisconsin woman working at a Madison-area convention center was rushed to the emergency room at UnityPoint Health – Meriter. “She was exposed to a cleaning agent that resulted in an anaphylactic reaction,” recalls Nick Gnadt, Meriter's manager of ambulatory pharmacy services. After doctors got her reaction under control, she was given a prescription for an Epipen which she went to fill at the hospital's onsite outpatient pharmacy in the lobby.

“She was uninsured and would have had to cover the entire cost herself,” Gnadt says. “At hundreds of dollars out of pocket, she was ready to walk away without it. She was very concerned about getting back to work because she thought she would be fired if she missed more work. I was able to provide the product to her at no charge thanks to 340B and get her a potentially lifesaving medication as she headed back to work.”

That's only one example, of how Meriter uses 340B savings to carry out its safety-net mission, Gnadt says. Thanks to 340B, the hospital recently expanded its discharge prescription coverage for uninsured patients, he notes. Meriter’s pharmacy also has hired a pharmacist who works alongside the physicians and nurses in their clinics, helping to optimize drug regimens for patients, monitor their adherence, and helping them become active partners in their care.

Meriter's access to lower 340B prices on medicine “gives me the ability to focus on what's best for the patient regardless of their ability to pay,” Gnadt says. “I can truly get them what they need when they need it.”

“To the hospital, 340B is vital to our bottom line,” he adds. “We've been able to expand both pharmacy and comprehensive care services that, as hospital reimbursement gets tougher and tougher, might otherwise be considered for cuts.”