The American Hospital Association purchased a large ad in The Wall Street Journal print edition Tuesday touting the 340B program’s benefits and saying, “It is in the best interest of all to keep the 340B program strong.”
The quarter-page ad in the newspaper’s Jan. 10 opinion section follows a wave of negative news about 340B hospitals in both the Journal and The New York Times. The ad also ran amid expectations of congressional hearings on 340B.
- Many of the programs and services that 340B helps hospitals provide may not be possible without the program.
- Drug companies attack the program because it eats into their bottom line.
- Factors fueling 340B’s growth include rising drug costs, congressional expansion of the program, increased use of outpatient care, and increased need for expensive specialty drugs.
The AHA ad appeared three weeks after the Journal published an investigative article about hospital participation in the drug discount program. It found that about 90 non-rural hospitals that could not get into 340B as disproportionate share hospitals enrolled in 340B under the less demanding criteria for rural referral centers—including nationally prominent urban hospitals in metro Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland. The investigation also found that “hospitals often extend their 340B discounts to clinics in well-off communities, where they can charge privately insured patients more than those on Medicaid.”
In September, The New York Times published a long investigative article about how Ohio-based health system Bon Secours Mercy “used the poverty” of one of its hospitals in Richmond, Va., “to tap into” the 340B program. Bon Secours, the Times alleged, “has been slashing services” at Richmond Community Hospital “while investing in the city’s wealthier, white neighborhoods.” (See related story.)
Last month, AHA and five other hospital and pharmacy groups ran pro-340B digital ads for two weeks in on the websites of The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, Fox, and other publications with policymaker audiences.
In July, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) ran a full-page ad in the Post that said the 340B program benefits “big hospitals and chain pharmacies,” not patients.