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Letter: 340B Program provides access to medications
People living with serious mental illness symptoms often find medication to be a critical part of stabilizing their condition. For people who are also uninsured or low income accessing that medication can be a real hurdle to getting better, the 340B program was created with these patients in mind.
In 1992 Congress passed the 340B program, which requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide deep discounts on medications to federally qualified clinics and hospitals, specifically those that provide charity care. When those clinics then bill Medicare for the medications, they keep the difference in order to offset the cost of providing charity care to patients in need. This program has provided critical access to medications for patients, and Congress should be doing everything it can to ensure it will continue to provide access for many years to come.
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While the 340B program has been a success for many patients, there are concerns that is has ballooned beyond its original scope and intentions. In order to preserve it for the people that depend on it Congress should exercise its oversight ability by clarifying who constitutes a 340B patient and increasing transparency within the program. Our vulnerable and low-income patients depend on this program for access, and it is critical that it continues to work for them.