Since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement cuts to the 340B drug pricing program went into effect January 1, AACI has been advocating to protect the program. CMS slashed what Medicare pays 340B hospitals for many oncology infusions and other physician-administered drugs, reducing reimbursement rates by nearly 30 percent. As a result, several AACI cancer centers have eliminated jobs, suspended faculty recruitment, and cut back on important educational programming. Among those hit hardest by the cuts are cancer centers and safety-net hospitals that care for low-income and rural patients, compounding cancer health disparities in the U.S.
As a continuation of its ongoing advocacy efforts, AACI hosted a webinar on Friday, September 14, titled “The Impact of 340B Reimbursement Cuts on AACI Cancer Centers.” Featured presenters were Jeff Davis, senior advisor and of counsel at Baker Donelson; Cheryl L. Willman, MD, CEO and director of University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNMCCC); and Sandra F. Durley, PharmD, senior associate director of ambulatory care pharmacy services at UI Health. AACI Deputy Director Jennifer Pegher moderated the webinar.
Following a detailed overview of the 340B program and its original intent from Mr. Davis, Dr. Willman described the negative repercussions of 340B program cuts she has already encountered at the UNMCCC.
“The excellent outcomes that we desire for our patients require access to clinical trials and many new cancer treatment modalities,” said Dr. Willman. “These include precision medicine, genome sequencing, targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and new experimental therapies – often of an exceedingly high cost.”
Through robust data, Dr. Durley described the financial impact on UI Health, where, she pointed out, oncology-related purchases accounted for 52 percent of 340B spending in Fiscal Year 2018.
She also shared moving patient stories, including that of I.H., an uninsured 30-year-old-man who was able to receive $5,700 worth of medication to treat acute myeloid leukemia for only $20, thanks to 340B discounts and the Medication Assistance Program.
“I wanted nothing more than to get well,” I.H. said. And he did: I.H. is still in remission today.
More than 80 participants—including cancer center directors, administrators, finance officers, and clinical trials office managers—tuned in to the webinar, which is just one facet of AACI’s advocacy efforts to preserve the 340B program.
AACI is still collecting responses to its 340B Impact Survey. And we encourage member centers to participate in our advocacy efforts by writing op-eds, contacting their state’s Senators and Congressional representatives, sharing social media posts using the hashtag #Protect340B, and submitting their comments to CMS by Monday, September 24. Please contact AACI for sample op-eds and supplemental educational resources on the program.
Pictured (left to right): Jeff Davis, Dr. Cheryl L. Willman, Dr. Sandra F. Durley