Trump has had so many of his policies taken apart in courts of law that it seems any normal person would do more to consult legal counsel before haphazardly making policies. This president, however, is no normal person.
Here’s our two cents: Preserving a program that enables safety-net hospitals to provide more care and assistance to millions of low-income and rural patients relies on discounts that make up less than 2% of the drug market dollar. #Protect340B https://t.co/5CiRln03OR pic.twitter.com/mGtouvwdXl
— 340B Health (@340BHealth) December 21, 2018
Just like many of the promises Trump made during his presidential campaign – Mexico is not paying for the wall and the ACA wasn’t repealed “on day one” and replaced with healthcare that covers everyone – his promise to make keeping prescription drug prices low a priority is contradictory to the actual moves Trump has made as president.
Judge Rudolph Contreras blocked efforts by the Trump administration to roll back discounts to low-income hospitals on prescription drugs that they buy. The decision to make those cuts was implemented in January 2018 and were set to take effect in January 2019.
New Yorkers are right to be upset with the high prices of new & existing drugs. Cutting back #340B program would make problems worse. Read letter to Congress from 700+ health system leaders: https://t.co/IbBhD480Mn
— Mitch Katz, MD (@DrKatzNYCHH) October 4, 2018
In a joint statement by the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and American Health Essentials, Contreras’s decision was praised.
‘America’s 340B hospitals are immeasurably pleased with the ruling that the Department of Health and Human Services unlawfully cut 2018 payment rates for certain outpatient drugs.
‘The court’s carefully reasoned decision will allow hospitals and health systems in the 340B Drug Pricing Program to serve their vulnerable patients and communities without being hampered by deep cuts to the program.
‘For more than 25 years, the 340B program has helped hospitals stretch scarce federal resources to reach more patients and provide more comprehensive services—this was Congress’ clear intent for the program. The court’s ruling will help ensure 340B can continue supporting access to affordable health care for our most vulnerable communities.’
Just out. @resachs and I discuss the status of the 340B program, why there are persistent questions and legal challenges to aligning @CMSGov payments more closely with drug acquisition costs. We mention the appeal of direct subsidies. https://t.co/185INFRKpe
— Peter B. Bach, MD (@peterbachmd) November 16, 2018
The 340B program allows hospitals to buy drugs at a discounted rate by reimbursing them for additional amounts spent, which can then be used to fund programs to help low-income patients. Critics of the program have pointed out that no incentives are included for hospitals who actually use the funds to help patients and since only certain drugs can be discounted in this way, doctors may be encouraged to prescribe certain drugs to their patients in order to receive these discounts.
Supporters of the program note that much of the funds are proven to have been used in this way and that hospitals in low-income areas benefit from this program just as their patients do.
RT @AIR340B: “Hospitals, many of which are in wealthy areas, qualify for the drug discount program due to ambiguous regulations, but are not required to treat or pass discounts on to vulnerable or uninsured patients.” https://t.co/z0TCSKvEUt pic.twitter.com/23GXjksdb1
— Community Oncology (@oncologyCOA) December 20, 2018
The decision marks just one more move by Trump to end assistance to the poor and marginalized, and just like many of his other attempts to do so, federal courts have blocked his efforts.