Federal Judge Delivers Blow To Trump Attempt At Hurting Low Income Americans

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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.

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many of the promises Trump made during his presidential campaign – Mexico is not paying for the wall and the ACA wasn’t repealed “on day one” and replaced with healthcare that covers everyone – his promise to make keeping prescription drug prices low a priority is contradictory to the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.

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.’

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.

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.

Featured image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license