May 2, 2017—Hospitals participating in the 340B drug discount program continue to treat more low-income cancer patients than non-340B providers, a study released today found, confirming the 340B program’s longstanding role in helping hospitals meet the needs of their low-income patients. The study by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates found that 340B disproportionate share (DSH) hospitals treated a higher proportion of low-income cancer patients who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare than non-340B hospitals and physician offices.
In 2014, almost one-quarter (22.8 percent) of Medicare Part B patients who received oncology drugs at 340B DSH hospitals were dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, compared to 13.8 percent in non-340B hospitals and 14.0 percent in physician offices. The 340B DSH hospital share of low-income oncology drug users was slightly higher in 2014 over 2013. Dual-eligibles tend to be the poorest and sickest beneficiaries.
Just days ago, the drug industry trade group PhRMA said on its blog that 340B hospitals buy physician practices that are often in wealthier areas and “are not required to treat uninsured or vulnerable patients even though they are benefiting from 340B discounts intended for safety-net providers,” citing research suggesting this is a particular issue with oncology practices. This new data shows that 340B DSH hospitals continue to treat a large volume of low-income oncology patients.
“This new research shows that the 340B program continues to serve low-income patients, just as Congress intended,” noted Ted Slafsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of 340B Health, the association of 340B hospitals that sponsored the new study. “The federal government gives certain hospitals relief from high drug costs in recognition of their high volumes of low-income patients. Prior research shows that 340B DSH hospitals treat more low-income patients than non-340B hospitals, provide more uncompensated care, and provide more vital but money-losing services that are critical to low-income patients like labor and delivery, trauma care, and HIV/AIDS services. 340B hospitals also serve more Medicare Part B patients who are disabled, dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, or are a racial or ethnic minority. This new research shows that, not only do 340B hospitals treat more low-income patients of all kinds than non-340B hospitals and physician offices, they also continue to treat more low-income cancer patients.”