WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is backing legislation to provide certainty to Arkansas hospitals participating in the 340B drug discount program during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The 340B drug pricing program is providing flexibility to more than 40 Arkansas medical facilities to help lower prescription drug prices. As a result of COVID-19, many hospitals were forced to reduce inpatient hospital admissions of low-income Medicare and Medicaid patients, a critical metric in determining eligibility for the 340B program.
Though hospitals have resumed elective procedures and patients are returning to seek care, there is concern that as a result of the pandemic slowdown, some hospitals may not meet the required inpatient admission threshold to remain in the program. The legislation Boozman is supporting, S.773, would ensure that any previously eligible hospital will be deemed eligible for any cost reporting period during which the public health emergency occurred.
“One of the top concerns I’ve heard from the Arkansas medical community is the need to protect the 340B drug pricing program. Extending eligibility to this lifeline is a commonsense step to ensure our hospitals and health care providers have the resources they need to care for low-income patients,” Boozman said.
“We appreciate Senator Boozman’s support of this legislation as it protects hospital eligibility in the 340B program. Hospitals use savings from the 340B program to increase access to care for patients and to enhance available health services. For these reasons, eligibility should not be terminated due to challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Arkansas Hospital Association President and CEO Bo Ryall.
Boozman has previously advocated support for the 340B program. In a speech on the Senate floor last year, Boozman shared the concerns of rural Arkansas hospital administrators about eligibility for continued participation in the 340B program. Boozman also joined a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging the department to take enforcement action to prevent pharmaceutical companies from undermining the 340B program and protect the ability of health care facilities to continue providing medications to their patients.