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Poll: Many Michiganders don’t know about drug discount program

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(The Center Square) – Few Michigan voters are aware of the 340B drug pricing program and its surrounding controversy, according to a new poll.

Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a non-profit free market advocacy organization, conducted an online poll of 400 registered Michigan voters in early May. The poll asked whether participants had heard of the program, and 64% had never heard of it.

The 340B program requires most pharmaceutical manufacturers to sell medications to health care organizations that care for uninsured or low-income patients at steeply reduced prices. These organizations, including cancer centers and rural hospitals, would then theoretically offer qualifying patients a discounted drug price .

The CASE poll laid out recent statistics and allegations about the program’s performance and asked voters how they felt about the accusations. According to the results:

98% of patients are not receiving any benefit from the 340B program. In fact, data show patients at 340B hospitals are paying 150% more for their prescriptions than patients at non-340B hospitals – 81% in Michigan find it extremely or very concerning.

Some hospitals are abusing the 340B program by issuing more prescriptions and prescribing more expensive drugs in order to access additional funding. A recent report showed that Medicare beneficiaries paid 48% more for some prescriptions at 340B hospitals – 78% in Michigan find it extremely or very concerning.

Hospitals are not required to report to the federal government basic information about their involvement in the 340B program including how or whether they reinvest 340B revenue into care for vulnerable patients, opening the door for significant fraud and abuse – 72% in MI find it extremely or very concerning.

Hospitals participating in the 340B program made $44 billion in profits in 2023 but only spent $18 billion on charity care. And more than two-thirds of 340B hospitals provide less charity care than the national average for all hospitals – 69% in MI find it extremely or very concerning.

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 5%.

The poll’s results come at the same time a recently proposed Michigan House bill aims to reform how the 340B program operates in the state.

HB 5350 would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide the discount price to all pharmacies in contract with 340B hospitals in the state.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association said health organizations rely heavily on the 340B program to provide critical care

“The MHA supports efforts at both the state and federal level that protect the program and prevent pharmaceutical companies from arbitrarily restricting program participation. 340B savings act as a force multiplier, allowing certain rural hospitals and hospitals serving low-income patients to stretch incredibly scarce resources to provide care for more patients in their communities, increasing access to care, quality of care and ability to care for Michigan’s most vulnerable residents,” CEO Brian Peters said in an email.

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