- The Government Accountability Office found the number of hospitals participating in the 340B drug pricing program increased by more than 60% from 2011 to 2016, from 1,465 facilities to 2,399. Of those hospitals, 45% are general acute care hospitals and 45% are critical access hospitals, the latter of which became eligible for the program in 2010.
- Hospitals that participate are generally smaller and often teaching hospitals. Additionally, 62% of all 340B hospitals are rural, while 38% are urban. Of those rural hospitals, a whopping 93% are critical access. As for ownership, only 1% of 340B hospitals are proprietary, while 67% are nonprofit and 32% are government-owned.
- While the amount of charity and uncompensated care was higher among 340B general acute care hospitals, GAO found 340B critical access hospitals provided less uncompensated care than those not in the program.
The report comes after the news earlier this week that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied the American Hospital Association's lawsuit against HHS for $1.6 billion in cuts made to the 340B drug pricing program beginning this year.
Proponents of 340B cuts have questioned whether participating hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act may be providing less charity care and uncompensated care due to increased coverage.
GAO found that, from 2012 to 2016, hospital participation in the 340B Program among 340B general acute care hospitals increased in Medicaid expansion states, but not in non-expansion states.
However, the report notes, this "may be explained in part by an increase in the number of hospitals in expansion states that met the minimum Medicare DSH (disproportionate share hospitals) adjustment percentage required for 340B participation, as it identifies hospitals that treat a disproportionate number of low-income Medicare and Medicaid inpatients."
The Trump administration's drug pricing blueprint suggests the 340B program has led drug manufacturers to hike the prices of their products. 340B Health responded by saying there is "no evidence" this is the case. The organization of hospitals taking part in the program also emphasized the importance to rural hospitals.
"This is about survival for many of our hospitals," Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said during a recent congressional hearing. "Local hospitals not only provide healthcare, but they're the center of life in many of our communities," he said. "We've got to make them successful."
Welch added that if the 14 Vermont hospitals that participate lost the 340B program, "it'd be the difference between black ink and red ink."