Fed Delays Implementation of 340B Rule After Health Centers, Lawmakers Sound Alarm

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BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Community Health Centers and the nearly 30 million patients they serve have a temporary reprieve from a new regulation implementing the President’s Executive Order around insulin and EpiPens. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has revised the regulation from an Interim Final Rule to a Proposed Rule, signaling that the public will now have a chance to submit written comments before it goes into effect. The move comes after health center leaders sounded the alarm about the rule’s potential impact on vulnerable populations, flooding the federal agency with meeting requests.

“We are deeply grateful that there seems to be growing recognition among leaders in the Administration that this rule will do more harm than good at a time when too many people are suffering,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of NACHC. “We hope that this is further acknowledgement that a pandemic is no time to destabilize the safety net. Certainly, the high cost of prescriptions remains a national crisis – but health centers are the solution – not the problem.”

NACHC has made protecting the 340B program at health centers a top priority. Last week the association held a press conference that highlighted the threats to the federal drug discount program that will force people further into poverty, disease, and put countless lives at stake. NACHC is moving forward with plans to mount a defense that includes legal action.

OMB’s revision comes after a White House Executive Order (EO) was issued in July that targeted EpiPens and insulin dispensed by health centers and purchased under the 340B Drug Discount program. Members of Congress from both parties joined with health center leaders in expressing concern and highlighted health centers as excellent stewards of the 340B program, using the savings it generated as Congress intended. U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) led a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting they rescind or decline to enforce the EO. “By targeting the centers providing these medications to those without insurance or the means to get the care instead of big pharmaceutical companies, HHS risks making things worse for a community already in need,” said Axne in a press release. “Community health centers provide critical lifelines in our communities. They aren’t the reason why drug costs, especially insulin costs, are too high in this country.”

Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.

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SOURCE National Association of Community Health Centers

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