August 30, 2017—There’s been an uptick in editorials by conservative leaders across America on the 340B program’s importance as a lifeline for safety-net and rural hospitals. They rightfully warn federal policymakers not to let down their communities by curtailing 340B through misguided laws or regulations.
Republican State Rep. Terri Funk Sypolt of the West Virginia House of Delegates wrote an op-ed for The State Journal explaining how the 340B program is keeping West Virginia hospitals afloat.
“The 340B program not only improves access to medicine, but it frees up rural hospitals to be able to afford more charitable care, and expand operations further into remote locations,” Rep. Sypolt notes. She added that without the 340B program, hospitals in West Virginia might be forced to close, cutting off access to care at a time when local hospitals are already facing major constraints in order to treat opioid abuse, manage post-combat care for veterans, and navigate the rising costs of prescription drugs.
Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant and George W. Bush administration veteran, picked up on these arguments in an op-ed in the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas.
“Unless you work in health care, you are probably unaware of the 340B program. But the population served by your rural or inner-city hospital depends on it,” stated Mackowiak. He warned that proposed changes to the 340B program could hurt many Americans.
In The Detroit News, Amelia Hamilton, a conservative commentator and contributor to National Review, questioned in an op-ed why Republican policymakers would want to reduce the use of 340B – a decision that would negatively impact their constituents.
Hamilton argues, “It’s curious that some in the administration and Congress seem to be promoting a false narrative that by reducing or dismantling the 340B program they could save taxpayers money. When in reality the opposite is true. The 340B program has no direct cost to taxpayers and potentially saves them money by providing populations that often rely on government assistance access to life-saving, preventative medicines they otherwise may not be able to afford.”
Hamilton further shares her concern about the potential impact to rural hospitals, which serve mainly Republican districts and are already struggling financially to keep their doors open.
Conservative writer Mytheos Holt, a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty, picked up on many of the same arguments in his essay for American Conservative in which he concludes that the 340B program should be preserved given the support it provides, especially to the working class.
These editorials reflect the 340B program’s historic bipartisan support, notes Ted Slafsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of 340B Health, the association of hospitals and health systems in the drug discount program.
“As policymakers return to Washington in the fall, we hope our representatives from both sides of the aisle continue to understand the importance of the 340B program,” he says. “Scaling back the program would overwhelm America’s safety net and prevent low-income and rural patients from receiving the comprehensive care they need.”