WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) continues to sound the alarm that a nationwide drug discount pricing program vital to the country’s health care safety net – and its HIV/AIDS response – is once again under attack by the drug industry under the guise of ‘reform.’
This week, AHF issued an ‘Open Letter’ to U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D-CA, 52nd District) asking that he reconsider his sponsorship of H.R. 4710, known as The PAUSE Act, a bill that stops new, eligible hospitals from joining the 340B drug pricing program. 340B has helped provide low-cost medications and better health outcomes for millions of Americans and the non-profit clinics and hospitals that serve them.
Since December, when Congressman Peters and U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN, 8th District) first introduced federal legislation attacking the 340B program—a program which costs the government and taxpayers nothing—advocates from AHF and others have been mounting a vigorous advocacy campaign to dispel the myths and pharma-driven falsehoods behind the bill and to urge the two congressmen to pull the legislation. This advocacy has included protests and press conferences held in front of the district offices of both legislators (in CA and IN) as well as the placement of radio, television and online advertisements about the misguided legislation and the 340B program targeting constituents of both congressmen in their respective districts.
In response and in defense of his bill, Rep. Peters issued a letter in late February to the larger 340B community setting out his position on 340B. In his letter, Peters also dismissively accused—without naming any names of organizations—some participating 340B entities of being, “bad actors.”
In its open letter to Rep. Peters, issued earlier today, AHF wrote, “While we appreciate your willingness to hear the perspectives of the 340B provider community, we wish that you had solicited this input prior to introducing your very damaging bill, H. R. 4710.” The letter goes on to extoll the virtues of 340B, including the fact many 340B hospitals and clinics are for, “… millions of Americans, the place for care when there is nowhere else to go.”
AHF’s open letter to Congressman Peters continued:
“Despite this, your letter dismissively labels those among us as ‘bad actors,’ who you claim are ‘abusing’ the 340B program. Exactly which entities do you believe are ‘bad actors?’ What do you claim they have done? What is the basis for such a conclusion?”
The letter further added:
“… while we agree with your assertion that the 340B program is under attack, it needs to be plainly stated precisely where this attack is coming from. The program is under attack only from the drug industry and its hangers-on, which cannot bear to see their profit margin on less than 3% of their sales reduced (not eliminated, mind you, just reduced) in order to help safety net providers stretch scarce federal resources and provide more services. As far as we can see, these are the only ‘bad actors’ here.
The 340B program is not broken. Thus, rather than fix a problem, your PAUSE Act merely limits the size of the program, which is exactly what pharma wants, by not allowing new, perfectly qualified entities who have done nothing wrong from entering the program …
… We respectfully request that you reconsider your sponsorship of HR 4710. We believe that rather than ‘fix’ a broken program its effect is to advance the drug industry’s goal of limiting a program that has provided incredible benefits to the American people.”
“Through H.R. 4710, Congressman Peters seeks ‘reform’ of 340B by shamelessly invoking an age-old canard: the allegedly widespread, but seldom found, ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’” said Tom Myers, General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs for AHF. “This bill is a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist. The 340B program is not broken. H.R. 4710 is another salvo in the war against the poor, a move that will harm many vulnerable citizens. Its real purpose is to further fatten the already engorged coffers of Congressman Peters’ friends in the pharmaceutical industry.”
In addition, the Ryan White Clinics for 340B Access Coalition (of which AHF is a member) also sent a letter to Congressman Peters regarding his sponsorship of H.R. 4710 and mischaracterizations about the 340B program made in his ‘Open Letter to Grantees.’ To read the Ryan White Clinics for 340B Access Coalition letter to Peters, click here.
AHF Launches ‘Bad Actors’ TV Ad Campaign
Targeting Rep. Peters in San Diego
In addition to the open letter to Representative Peters, AHF launched a three-week cable television ad campaign in San Diego challenging Peters to identify so-called ‘bad actors’ abusing the 340B program. The 30-second TV spot, which is airing on 20 different cable TV networks including CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, OWN, SYFY, USA Network, and VH1 demands that Peters identify the hospitals that he alleges are abusing the 340B program. The commercial’s narrator asks, “... is it Rady Children’s? Scripps? Sharp? Palomar? Or UCSD?”, referring to some of the most prominent and respected hospitals in the San Diego area.
The commercial then points out that the 340B program “… only accounts for 2.8% of yearly drug company sales…,” and suggests that if Peters is unable to name names of abusers, then the narrator states, “Maybe the ‘bad actors’ are politicians like you who are in the pocket of greedy drug companies.”
About the 340B Program The 340B program was enacted by Congress as part of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to allow designated safety net medical providers, called “covered entities”, to purchase prescription outpatient drugs directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers at discounted prices. As a discount program, 340B costs federal taxpayers and the government nothing. Congress itself expressed that the goal of the program is “to enable [covered entities] to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”1
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 889,000 individuals in 39 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us @aidshealthcare.
For information on the campaign to preserve 340B, please visit: www.let340B.org