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October 16, 2020

Trone supports lower drug costs for rural health care providers

OAKLAND — U.S. Rep. David Trone voiced his support for the 340B Drug Pricing Program that lowers drug costs for rural health care providers during a visit to Garrett Regional Medical Center.

The federal 340B program allows eligible health care entities to purchase outpatient drugs from pharmaceutical companies at significantly reduced costs. The health care entities can then roll the savings into patient care. Trone is co-sponsoring a bill that would provide flexibility for the 340B Program for the duration of the pandemic.

Mark Boucot, president and CEO of Garrett Regional Medical Center, agreed that the impact of 340B on rural health care providers is significant.

“The 340B Drug Pricing Program plays a significant role in our ability to ensure that patients of limited means can receive the care they need,” said Boucot. “At Garrett Regional Medical Center, we use the savings realized through the program to help fund specialty care, such as cancer care and infusion services. In 2019, GRMC provided approximately $5 million in uncompensated charity care to patients from throughout our eight-county service area. The loss of the 340B program would significantly impact our ability to meet the needs of our patients.”

The 340B program has been available since 1992. Even though no tax dollars are used, each year Congress considers eliminating or reducing the program.

Trone has worked throughout his tenure to preserve the program. This year, he signed a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar asking that the program be protected from pharmaceutical industry efforts to reduce and restrict 340B pricing. He also signed a letter to Stephen Ubl, CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, asking him to work with the organization’s member companies to maintain the program.

“I understand the importance of this program to organizations like Garrett Regional Medical Center,” Trone said. “It is especially important now, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, that rural hospitals have the resources they need to continue to provide care to their most vulnerable patients. We need to ensure that health care in Maryland’s rural areas continues to meet the needs of their communities.”

Trone has also supported continued flexibility of telehealth services for rural areas.

“Congressman Trone’s recognition of the role telehealth services plays in rural healthcare is vital,” Boucot said. “Telehealth allows rural communities to access specialty care they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. His continued support of his rural constituents shows he understands the challenges we face.”

“It’s my job to make sure the people I represent are able to tap the federal programs that help meet their needs and make their communities better places to live,” Trone said. “Access to health care is imperative and I’m working to make sure the people of the 6th District can get the care they need. ”