This is an ugly story from both sides of the issue. The big Pharma companies are looking to claw back some of their profits, and some hospital districts, such as Jefferson County Healthcare, may be using the system in a way it was not intended, meaning that it is unclear that the patients who were intended to benefit from this, actually are seeing benefits. JHC has a relationship to somehow share these discounts with Safeway, where they send patients for filling the discounted drug. Is the patient actually seeing a discounted price or is the hospital somehow using this to generate more profits? I am under the impression that Kitsap County is using the program more as it was originally intended, meaning that the monies are passed directly to the consumer who benefits from the discount. Is that not true here? It appears not to be.
The program, known as 340B, requires pharmaceutical companies to give steep discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve high volumes of low-income patients.
Under 340B, named after the section of the Public Health Service Act that authorizes it, eligible hospitals buy drugs at a discount from the pharmaceutical companies and then are reimbursed for those purchases from Medicare. The drugs are purchased under the Part B program, which covers expensive chemotherapy and other treatments in a hospital, doctor’s office and clinics.