(Dec. 3, 2021) – One of the most vital programs for Kansas hospitals is the 340B Drug Discount Program, a federal program created in 1992 to stretch scarce federal resources and allow participating entities to serve more vulnerable patients and provide more comprehensive services. Pharmaceutical manufacturers participating in Medicaid have agreed, as part of the 340B program, to provide outpatient drugs to covered entities at significantly reduced prices. Over the past few years, the Kansas Hospital Association has stepped up our advocacy efforts to protect the integrity of the program. To assist this initiative, KHA has been gathering information and data on the 340B crisis in Kansas and how Kansas hospitals use this program to treat uninsured patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions.
This new publication, soon to be shared with our state and federal elected officials, highlights the current situation and explains how vulnerable Kansans are at risk of losing access to life-saving prescriptions at an affordable price. As our members know, pharmaceutical manufacturers are attempting to undermine the program by declining to honor 340B pricing, refusing shipments to contracted pharmacies and imposing arbitrary reporting requirements. The Health Resources and Services Administration also has expressed its concerns with the actions of the pharmaceutical manufacturers.
We hope you will find this new in-depth look at the relationship Kansas residents and hospitals have with the 340B program as a helpful tool as we advocate on this issue. The publication illuminates how the pharmaceutical industry is attempting to handicap this program. It highlights legislation other states have passed to ensure affordable medications for their most vulnerable citizens. This resource also includes 340B key messaging, frequently asked questions, personal stories and more. As a reminder, 85 hospitals in Kansas benefit from 340B and are listed in the publication.
Lasting harm may be endured by Kansas residents if the program is not protected. This may occur in the form of reduced access to affordable medications, primary care services and unreimbursed health care programs like diabetic education, behavioral health and transportation. There also may be a loss of services and less access to critical care in low-income areas that do not have the economic resources to sustain services made possible by the program.
While Kansas as a state cannot change the constructs of the federal program, Kansas lawmakers and regulators have the authority to set business practices for the industry in Kansas. Per a media release from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, "It is vitally important that states are not prevented from improving access to affordable prescription drugs – particularly in rural communities in states like ours."
KHA will be using this new in-depth publication as we advocate for Kansans. Please let us know if you need additional resources as we advocate this critical topic. Thank you for your involvement in helping us protect the 340B program!