September 2, 2010—Eighty-one rural hospitals and one children's hospital joined the 340B drug discount program last month under health care reform's expansion of the program.
Data released by the Office of Pharmacy Affairs show that the 82 hospitals registered a total of 136 sites for the program during the month, the first of two during which newly eligible applicants are being added to 340B on a rolling basis. One hundred thirteen of the sites belong to critical access hospitals (CAHs), 18 to sole community hospitals (SCHs) and four to rural referral centers (RRC). The final one is Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, a Honolulu-based children's hospital.
None of the 11 free-standing cancer centers that the Affordable Care Act made eligible for 340B has enrolled in the program thus far.
Newly eligible hospitals will continue to be added to the program as quickly as their applications can be processed through Sept. 30. OPA has warned that hospitals that put off applying for the program until late September risk being unable to access 340B prices until the start of next year.
Admissions for the new hospitals opened on Aug. 2 and the first two - Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital, both CAHs belonging to Oregon's Samaritan Health Services – were officially enrolled just a day later.
Pamela Martin, the pharmacy director at Samaritan Pacific, a 25-bed facility just off the central Oregon coast near Corvallis, says her hospital decided to enroll in 340B largely due to her county's large indigent population. "We're still in the process of getting things settled with our wholesaler and haven't placed our first order yet," she says, noting that Samaritan Pacific hopes its participation will save it "a few hundred thousands of dollars per year" out of a total inpatient and outpatient drug spend of $4 million annually.