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Why Every Californian Should Support Prescription Drug Pricing Bill  – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Dr. Oliver Brooks’ head shot in blue (courtesy)

In 1992, the 340B Drug Discount Program was introduced, which gave public health centers (CHCs) the opportunity to provide pharmacy services to their patients, a service that many CHCs could not financially support to provide otherwise.

The program protects safety net providers, including CHC, from escalating drug prices, which allows us to buy drugs at a reduced price from manufacturers and pass these discounts directly to the patient. This program is currently under threat.

That is why I support Dr Richard Pan’s Senate Bill 939. This bill will prohibit discriminatory actions by drug manufacturers and administrators when providing 340B drugs to health centers and the patients they serve. It provides the important consumer protection needed to protect 340B savings and ensures that savings remain in health centers and their communities, creating greater access to health care and equality for all.

The 340B program also allows safety net providers the opportunity to accumulate savings that need to be reinvested directly in patient care and services. In this way, the program enables the subjects covered to stretch the scarce federal resources as much as possible, reaching more suitable patients and providing more comprehensive services.

For 30 years, the CHC has used these savings to provide free medicines to homeless patients, vouchers for free transport, free meals and hiring providers (such as community health professionals) who are not charged at Medi- Cal.

Today, there are more than 1,300 health centers in California that provide care to 7.2 million people – 1 in 5 Californians and 1 in 3 Medi-Cal patients. In addition, 68% of patients with CHC are from the BIPOC community. CHCs are often the only source of primary and preventive care for the most diverse communities in California, including those experiencing homelessness, immigrants, and farm workers.

Anyone who enters our health centers today can access a variety of services from primary care through dentistry to behavioral health care and a variety of comprehensive services, whether they have health insurance or the ability to pay for care. Much of the reason we are able to offer these services is due to the savings we receive from the 340B program.

In recent years, the 340B program has come under attack from pharmacy managers (PBMs), drug manufacturers and others within the large Pharma. With the expansion of the Affordable Care Act and Medi-Cal, more low-income patients have access to health care in California, which means they have more access to medication, leading to an expansion of the 340B program.

Given this fact, manufacturers have introduced practices that restrict patients ‘access to 340B drugs, while PBM focuses on attempts to take 340B of savings from CHCs and local communities that need them, threatening patients’ access to critical drugs provided through the program.

Health centers have been set up by the civil rights movement to ensure that all communities, especially colored communities, have access to high-quality care that is provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way.

This program has allowed stakeholders (CEs), including the CHC, to contract with local pharmacies so that our patients have access to cheap medicines in a convenient way. The constant greed of pharmaceutical companies and PBMs threatens the justice and access that CHCs are destined to create.

Community health centers across the country are alarmed by attacks by drug manufacturers against federal program 340B. Since 2019, 21 states have passed laws aimed at discriminating against PBM against 340B covered legal entities. It is time for California, which sets policy trends, to become the next state to defend the 340B program so that it can work as intended.

That is why Senate Bill 939 of Dr. Richard Pan is so important, and why I speak so fervently in favor of this law.

Dr. Oliver Brooks is a chief physician and former chief of pediatric and adolescent medicine at Watts Healthcare Corporation in Los Angeles.

Why Every Californian Should Support Prescription Drug Pricing Bill  – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Why Every Californian Should Support Prescription Drug Pricing Bill  – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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