Close Print View Issue

Shining a Light on 340B

IMG_5471-(002).jpgOn September 18, Northern Light Health president and CEO, M. Michelle Hood, FACHE, joined leaders from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and other hospitals as they announced new proposed principles for the 340B program.

These principles were created by an AHA 340B Task Force—of which Michelle is a member—in an effort to increase transparency and accountability within the program. They recommend 340B program participants publish an annual narrative, or report, that describes how they use 340B savings to benefit the community; publicly disclose the savings in a standardized method, and continue internal training and oversight to ensure they meet government rules.

The federal 340B drug-pricing program was created more than 25 years ago and allows hospitals and other healthcare organizations that treat a large number of low-income and uninsured patients to buy certain outpatient medications from pharmaceutical companies at a discount. The AHA announced these principles at a time when there has been pressure from some lawmakers and watchdog groups for increased oversight and transparency as to how hospitals and healthcare organizations use their savings to benefit their patients and communities.

“The 340B stewardship principles will help hospitals better tell their story of how this crucial program is delivering a variety of important benefits to patients and communities,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA in a release sent in September. “In an era of skyrocketing drug prices, 340B has been critical in helping hospitals expand access to comprehensive health services, including lifesaving prescription drugs.”

The program has been making headlines in the last few years as healthcare advocates speak out against the government’s delay putting into place regulations that would require price transparency for pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, Northern Light Health (then EMHS) joined AHA and others in a lawsuit against CMS for a more than $1.6 billion cut to the 340B program. Pollack hopes that CMS will change course on the cut if the association's new effort sheds light on 340B spending.

Michelle said the 340B program helps provide a range of healthcare services to Maine’s underserved and uninsured patients and communities. “Providing good stewardship of the 340B program will help ensure that participating hospitals can offer these comprehensive services that expand patient access to care.” Within our system, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Northern Light Inland Hospital, Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital, Northern Light CA Dean Hospital, and Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital participate in the 340B program.

Thus far, AHA's new principles have been endorsed by The Association of American Medical Colleges, The Children's Hospital Association, the 340B Health Coalition, America's Essential Hospitals, and the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

We will continue to advocate for the 340B program and, as always, will be sure to keep you informed as to the latest events and developments.