Established in 1992, the 340B drug discount program was intended to help health care providers who mainly care for underserved, uninsured or low-income patients.

The program was designed to reduce prescription drug costs, with drug manufacturers providing health care providers with discounted medicines. In return, health care providers should expand access to care and provide reduced-price medicine to the needy people they treat.

Congress should support the Helping Ensure Low-income Patients have Access to Care and Treatment, or HELP ACT, a bill to increase oversight, require basic data and reporting, and temporarily freeze the new disproportionate share on hospitals in the 340B program. This will go a long way toward reining in abuses and improving the integrity of this drug discount program.

The 340B program is a critical component for many of the qualifying clinics and providers that use it. It should create better health outcomes for needy and vulnerable patients by subsidizing the cost of medicines for the entities providing care to them. Recent evidence, however, has shown that the program isn’t working. Several studies show that hospitals’ charity care rate decreased in recent years while hospitals’ revenue increased.

Our hope is that Congress will work to fix the 340B drug discount program by passing the HELP ACT. The South Carolina Cancer Alliance has been dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer, as well as improving the treatment of those affected by this disease. Treatment and survivorship are part of our South Carolina State Cancer Plan. Our goal is to increase the number of South Carolinians who have access to effective cancer treatments and benefit from improved quality-of-life services.

It’s time to get the 340B program back on track. To help the neediest patients, we need to root out abuses within the program and work with Congress and the administration to modernize the program for sustainability.

Please help to get this program back to its original mission.

Nancy Cheney

S. C. Cancer Alliance

Caroline Hill Road

Lexington