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Community Health Centers prove the 340B Program is working!

In 1992, Congress instituted a program that plays an integral part in supporting health care safety net providers, while also gaining uninsured patients access to much needed prescription medicines.  The  340B Program reduces drug costs for providers, helps covered entities stretch already scarce federal funding, which in turn allows them to pass along these savings to their patients.  The main goal and intention of the 340B Program is for covered entities to utilize the benefit of the discount to reach more eligible patients and provide more comprehensive services, and the 340B Program is meeting these essential goals.

This program has received its fair share of scrutiny, with questions recently being raised on whether 340B is still following the mission it was intended to serve. Since the program’s enactment in 1992, the federal government has observed, on many occasions, that 340B is working properly and covered entities are using their program savings to benefit their patients. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a study on the 340B Program in which the entities surveyed, reported using their 340B savings to maintain health care services and lower drug costs for patients, which is consistent with the purpose of the program.

Furthermore, a survey by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), found that community health centers participating in 340B made the proper use of their program savings to benefit their patients.

The NACHC reported health centers are able to:

  • Improve the quality and variety of prescription drugs available

  • Care for more patients

  • Provide more services

  • Lower the cost of prescription drugs to patients

  • Reduce drug prices to third parties

  • Offset losses from providing care without compensation

 

As federal dollars shift and resources become scarce, it is critical that health centers participate in the 340B Program so they can continue to increase patient access and expand services. The commodity provided by health centers is a service.  Providers are only capable of seeing so many patients. The focus on patient centered care and the expansion of accountable care organizations forces providers to be held even more accountable for improved patient outcomes.  The 340B Program will enable health centers to increase access to affordable medication, which will ultimately improve outcomes, and assist in overcoming the impact of the decline in federal and state funding.

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