Most patients are probably unaware of the ins and outs of the 340B drug pricing program, which requires drug companies to provide discounted drugs to certain hospitals and clinics serving the most needy patients. But in areas like rural Appalachia, this kind of program can mean the difference between life and death for some.
Yet those drug companies, insurers, and drug benefit managers will find ways to make as much money as possible, even if that means exploiting the loopholes of programs like the 340B. Lawmakers will have to fight, and Reps David McKinley, RW.Va., and Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., Have introduced a way for them to do so.
Preserving the orderly rules for entities covered by (PROTECT) 340B would prevent wholesale ” pickpocketing “, as Spanberger says, the clinics and hospital systems that provide prescription drugs cheaply to those in need, but can’t pay full price.
“The 340B drug pricing program is a critical part of many rural and underserved areas. Without it, many providers would not be able to provide essential services and low-cost medicines to the communities they serve ”, McKinley said. “Yet actions taken by large pharmaceutical companies and middlemen have compromised the ability of clinics and hospitals to deliver life-saving services. Our bipartisan bill will hold pharmaceutical companies accountable and ensure access to affordable medicines. “
Rural and underserved. These words shouldn’t be a flashing light for those looking for populations to be exploited for profit, but they are.
“This bill addresses the problem of pick-pocketing at the federal level, and it also regulates the Medicare Advantage and Part D plans,” said Judy Raveaux, CEO of CHANGE, Inc. If the bill passes, it would greatly complement state-level pick-pocketing protections and other 340B-covered entity protections already in place in West Virginia for which community health centers have fought for the past five years. “
We may have to pick the pharmaceutical, insurance and PBM companies out of a few of the pockets of lawmakers who will decide the fate of this bill in the first place. But lawmakers surely understand that this is a no-brainer, if we are to ensure that poor, rural and generationally underserved patients receive the care they need.