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The Biden Administration has sent a clear signal that a rule implementing an Executive Order (EO) from the previous administration on 340B insulin and Epipens dispensed at health centers must go. Issued nearly one year ago, the EO aimed to cut drug prices for consumers – but many bipartisan lawmakers, health center advocates and NACHC consistently sounded the alarm that the EO would do nothing to lower the prices of these drugs and do more harm than good. Specifically, the EO proposed leveling extensive administrative burdens on health centers, a move that would ultimately make prescription drugs less affordable and accessible for health center patients during the pandemic.
“NACHC appreciates the Biden Administration for recognizing that this rule would not increase access for patients and instead place an immense burden on the health center program,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of NACHC. “NACHC has consistently voiced concerns about the impact of this rule based on its proponents’ fundamental misunderstanding of the health center mission. Under the 340B program health centers are required to invest every penny of savings back into patient care and will continue to provide patients affordable medications.”
NACHC has made protecting the 340B program at health centers a top priority as the former Administration’s EO and a series of moves by the drug industry have threatened the ability of health centers to offer discount drugs to their 30 million patients. Members of Congress from both parties joined with health center leaders in expressing concern about the EO and underscored the history of health centers as excellent stewards of the 340B program, using the savings generated as Congress intended. View NACHC’s recent infographic about how health centers invest savings from the 340B program.
Health centers have been on the ground in force for over a year, fighting the spread of the virus in hard-to-reach communities, including communities of color and among special populations. To this date, health centers have initiated more than 10 million COVID-19 vaccinations and conducted over 11 million COVID-19 tests.
“It is encouraging to see HHS acknowledge health centers’ vital role in the COVID-19 pandemic response and the significance of health centers devoting all of their resources to patient care,” said Tom Van Coverden. “NACHC looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure health centers have the resources and support as they begin the last mile of the pandemic.”
From 2009-19, drug makers tripled the prices of common types of insulin in the U.S, for no evident reason. Health centers are already the solution to high drug price and their longstanding mission has been to ensure that all individuals can afford the pharmaceuticals and medical services they need – regardless of their ability to pay. Health centers offer sliding fee discounts for all persons with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.
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.