St. Luke goes out-of-county with drug contracts
Without seeking board approval, St. Luke Hospital has expanded its program of drug rebate contracts from two in-county pharmacies to three mail-order or out-of-county pharmacy companies.
Despite controversy over St. Luke’s contact with one of the in-county pharmacies, Marion’s Lanning Pharmacy, for services under the federal 340b program, chief executive Jeremy Ensey on Friday filed 18 new pharmacy contracts.
The federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the 340b program, now lists 21 contracts for pharmacies to serve as 340b program providers for St. Luke.
The program provides discounts or rebates to both the hospital and participating pharmacies on drugs purchased through the hospitals intended for low-income or uninsured patients.
Lanning’s latest contract with St. Luke gave it 43% of the savings while St. Luke kept 57%.
The new contracts are with three pharmacy companies, Accredo Health Group, Optum, and Walmart. The contracts are for prescriptions to be filled at seven Accredo locations, five Optum locations, and six Walmart locations including Newton and McPherson.
At a board meeting in April, Marion pharmacist Traci Lanning, already contracted with the hospital, demanded an independent audit of the hospital’s 340b program. She said she would pay for the audit in advance but if a discrepancy was found on the part of the hospital, the hospital would reimburse her.
Ensey said in an email Tuesday that board approval was not required for the contracts to be signed.
Three members of the hospital board of directors were surprised to hear about the new contracts.
Chris Mercer, on the board since 2021, said he had heard nothing about the new contracts until he was asked about them.
Linda Carlson, one of three board members who hopes to be re-elected Tuesday, also was surprised to hear about the new contracts.
“We haven’t had a board meeting,” she said.
She declined to comment further.
Jeff Soyez, sworn on to the board during its April meeting, said nobody had said anything about the contracts to him.
John Wheeler, chairman of the hospital board, did not return a call.