An Ohio-based health system that was the focus of a New York Times investigation of alleged 340B program misuse opened a long-delayed medical office building this week near the Richmond, Va., hospital featured in the exposé.
Bon Secours Health System began building the facility on the campus of Richmond Community Hospital in February 2022. According to the Times article, in 2012 Bon Secours promised to build it as part of a development plan with the state, the city, and a professional football team.
The hospital and new building are in a predominantly Black neighborhood. The Times said Bon Secours has opened offsite outpatient locations of the hospital in wealthier, white parts of Richmond and profited from billing insured patients at above cost for 340B-acquired drugs. The hospital has “severely limited supplies and facilities” despite having “the highest profit margins of any hospital in Virginia,” the Times said. Nationally, 340B program critics cite the article as evidence why the program must change.
Bon Secours said in a news release that the new building “significantly improv[es] access to quality health care for Richmond’s East End community.” The system simultaneously announced a three-year initiative to increase medical services, wellness and prevention services, physician recruitment and training, and community partnerships in the East End.
According to a local news report, the president of the health system’s Richmond market said Tuesday during a briefing that “Bon Secours invests far more than 100% of 340B savings realized here, on this campus, back here into the community.”
Local Democratic Party representatives want the health system to do more.
The Richmond City Democratic Committee this month passed a resolution calling on Bon Secours “to account for all profits it generates through the 340B federal drug program, demonstrate that it is investing 100% of those profits into the Richmond region’s low-income communities, especially those of color, and to ensure Richmond Community Hospital offers full spectrum healthcare on par with other Richmond area hospitals.”
“I think anyone who’s been in Richmond long enough is aware that [the East End medical office building] is a project that was supposed to have been started and finished years ago,” Tom Barbour, who chaired the committee that wrote the resolution, said in a local news interview. “And the timing of it is a bit suspect. I think it’s more performative than actually making investments in Richmond Community Hospital and our East End neighborhoods the way that the 340B program contemplated initially.”
A special election will be held Feb. 21 to fill the seat of U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), who died Nov. 28. Richmond has the largest share of voters in the congressional district. Democratic nominee Jennifer McClellan, a state senator, is expected to win. In October, McEachin’s office said in addition to seeking answers from Bon Secours about why it ceased services at Richmond Community whiles earning millions from the hospital’s 340B status, he was “also actively exploring various options for federal oversight and legislative action.”