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Program that spurred conflict between hospital, pharmacy to be revisited

Staff writer

The 340B program, a discount drug program intended to help uninsured and underinsured patients by reducing the wholesale price of prescriptions — a a source of local controversy between Lanning Pharmacy and St. Luke Hospital — is being discussed in the U.S. Senate with the goal of making the program more transparent and clear.

Conflict between Lanning and St. Luke began more than a year ago after their original contract, signed July 14, 2015, was amended Nov. 1, 2022.

Under new hospital chief executive Alex Haines, the pharmacy and the hospital are working to resolve the issue between them.

Senator Jerry Moran and six senators from other states formed a bipartisan working group to propose updates to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s 340B program and give it more stability and transparency to ensure the program can continue to achieve its original intent of supporting entities serving eligible patients.

“We believe it is necessary to pass legislation in the 118th Congress that provides clarity, transparency and accountability in the 340B program in order to ensure the program remains strong, long into the future,” a release from Moran’s office said.

The release says a legislative discussion draft was released last week to improve the program.

One of several areas the senators want to learn more about is contract pharmacy arrangements.

The program requires drug manufacturers who participate in Medicaid and Medicare to provide certain non-profit health care providers, hospitals, and clinics a discount on outpatient drugs. The program enables them to use the savings to provide more comprehensive services to eligible patients and their communities.

“We acknowledge that there have been concerns from stakeholders about ambiguity in the program and transparency is needed to ensure the program is serving eligible patients as originally intended,” the press release says.

Both Haines and pharmacist Traci Lanning support the Senate review of the program and the effort to improve it.

So does Hillsboro Community Hospital chief executive Mark Rooker.

“As a general statement, I would support then changes being talked about,” Haines said. “It’s a very gray program.”

Haines said a lot of medical providers would benefit from clarification.

“They also want to clarify contract pharmacies, how many you can use and where they would be,” Haines noted.

Haines said St. Luke and Lanning have corrected an incorrect price file. They are now working to figure out how to move forward.

“I’ve appreciated the Lannings being willing to sit down and talk about it,” Haines said. Lanning called Haines a “savior.”

“I will say I think it is a smart decision to look into passing legislation that ensures the program can continue,” Lanning said. “The program is too important to patients and hospitals. It allows life-saving medications to be dispensed to uninsured people who would otherwise have to go without, and it allows hospitals to provide services they might not be able to without the 340B funding. It is a win-win for communities, hospitals and even pharmacies.”

“I think it’s good to revisit the program,” Rooker said. He expects examination of the program to shore it up and make it more accountable and transparent.

Last modified Feb. 8, 2024

 

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