In Court Papers, 340B Hospitals Tell How Massive CMS Cuts Are Causing Irreparable Injury

by admin | March 1, 2018 8:04 am

[1]March 1, 2018— Steep federal drug reimbursement cuts to hospitals in the 340B drug discount program are causing “irreparable injury…by jeopardizing essential programs and services provided to their communities and the vulnerable, poor and other underserved populations, such as oncology, dialysis, and immediate stroke treatment services,” three national hospital groups and three local health systems have told a federal appeals court. The cuts are also harming or threatening to harm affected hospitals’ osteoporosis services, blood factor services, geriatric psychiatric services, and school-based and community health programs, they said

The national groups and local health systems are appealing a lower court’s decision[2] to dismiss on procedural grounds their suit to stop the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from implementing and enforcing $1.6 billion in Medicare Part B drug reimbursement cuts to 340B hospitals, which took effect on Jan. 1. In a Feb. 15 filing[3], they asked the appeals court to stop the cuts and to send the case back to the lower court.

Bipartisan legislation[4] to stop the cuts introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. David B. McKinley (R-W.Va.) had 189 sponsors as of Feb. 28.

Thirty-five state and regional hospital associations warned in a friend of the court brief filed in the case on Feb. 22[5] that hospitals in the 340B program will be “severely harmed” and “scores of low-income, uninsured, underinsured, and homeless patients” will get less care due to the CMS cuts.

“CMS’s massive cuts to 340B are irreconcilable with Congress’s goal of allowing hospitals to offset the high cost of prescription drugs so that they can direct their limited resources towards patient care and services,” they said. “These cuts…will have profound effects on patients and health care providers across the country. Drug costs will increase and safety-net providers will face hard choices about eliminating or dramatically curtailing crucial programs that treat a wide range of medical conditions—from cancer to mental health disorders to diabetes to opioid addiction to HIV/AIDS.”

The hospital groups offered these specific examples of hospital clinics and programs “that will likely struggle to stay afloat—or, worse, be forced to close—in the wake of the new rule”:

“The list could go on and on,” the hospital associations said. “If [our] fears are realized, and [340B hospitals] nationwide are forced to shutter facilities and slash services, the impact will be deeply felt in communities across the country.”

The federal government has until March 19 to file its brief in the appeal. The court agreed to expedite the case and a decision is expected this spring. The legal battle is taking place at the same time that Congress is considering bills that would limit hospitals’ ability to access 340B savings and subject them to new reporting requirements. Rep. McKinley’s bill to stop the cuts is in the mix in those discussions.

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