July 19, 2017 – The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposal to slash 340B hospitals’ reimbursement for Medicare Part B drugs would punch a big hole in America’s healthcare safety net. Low-income seniors with cancer would be especially at risk. 340B disproportionate share hospitals treat 60 percent more such patients than non-340B hospitals and physician offices.
Queens Cancer Center at Queens Hospital in New York City is a prime example. Ninety-three percent of the patients there are on Medicaid, Medicare, or are self-pay, notes Dr. Mary Margaret Kemeny, the center’s director, in an op-ed for the local newspaper Queens Ledger. “The savings we get through 340B allow us to stretch our resources to provide advanced imaging, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for all our patients, regardless of their ability to pay,” she says.
“The 340B program helps shield Queens Cancer Center’s poorest charges from soaring drug prices,” Dr. Kemmey continues. It is a key part of caring for our most vulnerable oncology patients. We need it now more than ever and Congress must protect it.”
Or take Genesis HealthCare System, which serves a six-county region in southeastern Ohio coal country. The system provided more than $30 million in uncompensated care in 2016. Genesis Cancer Care Center uses 340B savings to assist patients with expensive infusion and chemotherapy drugs.
“To provide uncompensated care, we rely on many funding streams,” writes Genesis CEO Matt Perry in an op-ed for the Zanesville (Ohio) Times Recorder. “A critical one is the 340B drug discount program.”
“At a time when Congress is considering legislation that would increase the number of uninsured by 23 million – an impact we’d acutely feel – it would be a colossal mistake” to scale back the 340B program, he says.