Since the election last week I have been fielding calls from friends, business associates and employees all asking the same question “What does President-elect Trump mean for the 340B Program?”
The 340B program, while a small piece of the overall healthcare system, serves a major need. It helps community health centers and hospitals that serve underserved populations provide drugs at a lower cost and generate revenue that often helps these healthcare providers keep their doors open.
It’s safe to say that the approach to healthcare that a President-elect Trump will take will be different than that of President Obama. However, the challenges they face remain the same.
In terms of the 340B program, the reality is that the program makes good sense and has enjoyed bipartisan support for years. Here are the high points:
- The 340B program brings big benefits to rural healthcare providers. Without 340B, many rural areas of our country would lose their access to health care, because small, rural health care providers wouldn’t have the funding they need to operate. A quick look at the final electoral college map shows that the rural constituency was instrumental in helping Trump win, and we fully expect that the Trump administration will support the needs of rural communities.
- The 340B program costs the government very little to run. Revenue generated from the program comes from savings recognized by the covered entities in pharmaceutical costs. The primary cost to the government is the cost of having the Office of Pharmacy Affairs administer the program. The 340B program costs about $10.2 million to administer (2016), and generates $3.8 billion in savings for participating covered entities (2013). So, for every $1 the government spends running the program, more than $372 is generated for the entities who provide care to these vulnerable populations.
- Nobody trusts Big Pharma right now, and they have earned our distrust. I had to shell out almost $700.00 for an epi-pen last week. There is nothing quite like having to purchase a life saving drug and knowing you are getting taken advantage of in granular detail. I can’t imagine any responsible elected official voting against their local community health centers and hospitals - and for Big Pharma.
- Money still does not grow on trees, and if 340B revenue is removed from our community health centers and hospitals, it will need to be replaced by other money - and that means tax dollars.
So, while I don’t know with any certainty what the future holds for the 340B program, I do know this: The 340B program makes both business and political good sense.
At Equiscript, the work we do to support community health centers and hospitals helps to keep patients healthier, happier, and and hopefully more prosperous. Our 340B home delivery pharmacy program not only generates important financial resources for our covered entity clients, it also saves the healthcare system money, because patients who adhere to their prescription regimens have fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
I think these practical attributes bode well for the 340B program’s future, and I am proud to be part of the work the 340B program does.