Friday, November 4th marks 30 years since Congress passed legislation codifying the 340B Drug Pricing Program in 1992, naming it after a section of the Public Health Service Act. The 340B Drug Pricing Program was created to assist safety-net providers, like Community Health Centers, “to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.” Three decades later, it’s clear the 340B program is still successful. The program has become integral to helping health centers offer their patients access to discounted medications and comprehensive primary care services that improve patient well-being and quality of life. Thanks to 340B, health centers have been able to reinvest essential savings to support patient services that they otherwise would be unable to fund. Learn more: 340B—A Critical Program for Health Centers
At the same time we celebrate this vital program’s milestone anniversary, NACHC is actively mobilizing our networks to protect it from pharmaceutical manufacturers’ attempts to weaken the program.
Pharmaceutical Restrictions on 340B Hurt Health Centers
During the past couple years, multiple drug companies decided to restrict shipments to 340B contract pharmacies. Then, in August, Boehringer Ingelheim extended their contract pharmacy restrictions to include health centers, making them the eighth manufacturer limiting 340B-priced drugs to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).
The additional restriction hurts health centers’ ability to put savings toward services such as dental care, behavioral health, transportation services, prescription delivery, food pantries, housing supports, and copay assistance programs. To better illustrate how health centers reinvest 340B savings, NACHC created an infographic to show the role 340B plays in helping health centers fund health equity.
With 340B a top priority for health centers, NACHC has been convening events to bring people together to talk about what the program means to their health center. During our annual Community Health Institute (CHI) conference in Chicago, we held our first ever 340B Day! Over 600 people joined us in-person and online, learning more about contracting, advocacy, and compliance in the 340B space. We look forward to gathering again with health centers to discuss 340B, among other policy areas, during our Policy & Issues (P&I) Forum scheduled for March 2023.
In early October, we also jointly hosted, alongside The Ryan White Coalition for 340B Access, the first 340B Grantee Conference in Denver, Colorado. It was invigorating to gather with others and discuss the unique challenges grantees may face with the 340B program.
The Path Forward for 340B
Unfortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) dismissed NACHC’s Administrative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in September. The ADR was the only legal pathway for covered entities to try and resolve 340B-related disputes with manufacturers. We expressed our extreme disappointment about this decision in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and requested a meeting to discuss pharmaceutical companies’ unlawful restrictions on 340B drugs to contract pharmacies.
Coordinating with 340B Stakeholders to Protect the Program
State-level 340B action also continues apace. After extensive activity this past spring, 23 states have enacted legislation to protect 340B savings and prohibit pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) from discriminating against 340B covered entities in the last three years. NACHC will continue to work with Primary Care Associations to get the last 27 states to pass similar protections for 340B savings.
NACHC also continues to conduct outreach to a host of national state health policy organizations – including the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), and the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) – to better inform state policymakers about the 340B program.
Between what we have heard from health centers at 340B Day and the Grantee Conference, the eight manufacturers restricting discounted drugs to FQHCs, and the dismissal of the ADR petition, it is clear we need a congressional fix. Health centers need the 340B program to continue for another 30 years and beyond.
Happy Birthday 340B – Join the Twitter Storm to Elevate the Importance of the 340B Program
The 340B program deserves high recognition for the important role it plays in sustaining America’s safety net. NACHC wants your help in highlighting stories about how 340B has positively impacted your health center and patients. We are hosting a Twitter storm from 1-2 PM ET to flood the platform with ways the 340B program has helped the health center community! Use the hashtags #30yearsof340B and #valueCHCs to be part of the conversation – and be sure to tag your Members of Congress. Please sign up for updates and alerts through our grassroots advocacy website, and follow us on Twitter at @HCAdvocacy and @NACHC.