New report criticizes charity care actions of 340B hospitals

Many hospitals participating in the 340B discount drug program are not giving their patients enough information about charity care, according to a new report.

The report, published by the Berkeley Research Group, concluded that less than 62 percent of 340B hospitals informed patients of their eligibility for charity care programs before initiating collections. Only 37 percent limited charges for eligible patients to Medicare or commercial insurance rates.

The study noted that many hospitals participating in the 340B program have yet to comply with charity care-related reforms connected with the Affordable Care Act. The one area where there is almost universal compliance is the reporting of a community health needs assessment--one of the few requirements whose failure is punished with a financial penalty, the report noted.

"It is concerning to see 340B hospitals falling short of meeting some of the protections created in the ACA for our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. The protections in the ACA are similar to those the 340B grantees are already meeting, begging the question of whether the current 340B eligibility rules for hospitals are targeting true safety-net facilities," Stephanie Silverman, spokesperson for AIR340B, said in a statement. "Reform is needed to ensure needy patients, not hospitals, are the ones benefiting from this important program."

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf, registration may be required)
- check out the media statement