Out is in; in is out
Reform law lowers drug prices—for outpatient only
The healthcare reform law opens the door for more hospitals to purchase discounted drugs through a government program, though some industry executives say the absence of an inpatient drug option will reduce its savings potential and discourage participation.
While pleased that some types of criticalaccess, children’s and cancer hospitals will be able to purchase outpatient drugs at lower prices through Medicaid’s 340B discount drug program, the American Hospital Association and others in the industry were disappointed that lawmakers chose to leave out inpatient drug purchasing from the program changes passed as part of the healthcare reform package.
The 340B program allows hospitals serving large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients to purchase their outpatient drug supplies through the same manufacturers’ rebate program used by Medicaid. By law, drugmakers are required to provide the discount to Medicaid.
The inclusion of inpatient drugs in the law definitely would have lowered costs for hospitals and patients and saved the federal government money, producing opportunities to pay for other things, said Don May, vice president for policy with the AHA. For these reasons, hospitals will undoubtedly be leaning on Congress to include inpatient drugs in future legislation, he said.
Two-hospital Truman Medical Centers, Kansas City, Mo., currently participates in the program and averages about $6 mil-
Ryan: 340B presents an opportunity for Cottage Hospital.