A little-known government program called 340B provides an important safety net by giving discounts on prescription drugs to certain hospitals and health clinics that care for high numbers of uninsured, poor or vulnerable patients.
Unfortunately, abuse of the 340B program by some hospitals is hurting cancer patients and the cancer care system. These hospitals use the discounts to boost their bottom lines, not share savings to help patients. They use profits to take over the nation’s cancer care system—forcing community oncology practices to close or merge with them, shrinking the cancer care system, and raising prices for everyone.
Abuse of the 340B program by hospitals is also beginning to hurt the very patients it is supposed to help – cutting them off from timely and high-quality care when they need it. This has been particularly acute for cancer patients who face quotas, wait lists, and significantly higher costs at 340B hospitals.
Fortunately, reform of 340B reform is on the horizon. The federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed changes to help stop hospital abuse of the 340B program. It is time to reform 340B so it works how it was originally intended.