Delaware’s Federally Qualified Health Centers Urge the State Legislature to Prioritize Low-Cost Medication Legislation by June 30 

Written by: Chris Fraser, President & CEO of Westside Family Healthcare; Shay Scott, CEO of Henrietta Johnson Medical Center; and Brian Olson, CEO of La Red Health Center

Time is running out on the Delaware legislative session, and we are urging our policy leaders to prioritize access to low-cost medications for uninsured patients. Through the 340B program, access to these discounts are at no cost to the taxpayer. 

Delaware has three Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), including Westside Family Health, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, and La Red Health Center,  who collectively provide care to more than 45,000 Delawareans, many of whom live in poverty and who are uninsured or underinsured. For more than 30 years, FQHCs have used the federally approved 340B drug discount program as a lifeline to help patients access needed care. It dramatically decreases the cost of prescription drugs, providing affordable access to life-saving drugs and props up other care that is underfunded, or otherwise not available without the 340B program. All patients benefit from expanded access to primary and preventive services made possible with the 340B program.

One of the unique aspects of 340B in Delaware is that all the health centers, hospitals, and a variety of state run health services participate in the program working with pharmacies across the state. By design, this ensures continuity of care for our health center patients who seek specialty care through our partner hospital systems – like oncology, cardiology, and endocrinology. By working with pharmacies in the community to access 340B medications, we are overcoming barriers to care and ensuring equitable access to medications. 

Today, 340B is holding on by a thread, and time is running out. Because of pharmaceutical manufacturer restrictions that began in 2020, uninsured patients are forced to travel far out of their way to get vital medications, or worse, simply don’t fill their prescriptions due to excessive drug costs. With the uninsured, that simply isn’t an option, and their health will suffer greatly.

Seven other states have approved, and others are considering, a solution modeled in House Substitute 1 for House Bill 383, that would simply stop the harmful restrictions on the 340B program that are threatening care. We are confident it will work here. In Arkansas, multiple court rulings have now upheld a similar law despite a hard legal fight against it by the drug companies to protect their profits.

We call on the legislature to approve House Substitute 1 for House Bill 383 now and assure Delaware protects health care options that are under attack.

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