Updated: Nov 6
The passage of HB1881, the 340B Drug Pricing Nondiscrimination Act, in Arkansas is a huge win for the 340B community. The new law establishes important protections that will help 340B covered entities like community health centers and hospitals better serve their underserved patients.
By prohibiting discriminatory practices by third parties like insurers and PBMs, the law ensures that 340B savings are used as intended - to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible in providing care to low-income and vulnerable populations. It prevents tactics that siphon off these savings rather than allowing them to benefit patients.
Additionally, the law protects patient choice by banning coercive practices that steer patients to specific pharmacies. Patients should have freedom to fill their prescriptions wherever they choose.
State level legislation around 340B has proven effective at curbing discriminatory behaviors that undermine the program. The momentum created in Arkansas should be pushed out to all other states. Lawmakers across the country should follow Arkansas' lead in passing similar protections for covered entities and the communities they serve. When more states establish clear guardrails, it will help strengthen and preserve the 340B program for years to come.
The 340B program plays a vital role in improving healthcare access. By defending it from unfair practices, states can help covered entities continue their important mission. The new Arkansas law is an example of how state legislation can work to uphold the intent of the 340B program. Its impact should encourage further action on this issue at the state level nationwide.