ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The largest health care union in the country is joining the call to repeal “the disastrous Medicaid drug carve-out.”
Currently, the 340B program lets community programs buy medication at a deep discount while passing savings in the form of housing aid and food assistance to residents. New York plans to carve-out this Medicaid prescription drug program on April 1.
Dozens of community health groups—Save NY’s Safety Net coalition—want the Department of Health to reverse the changes to the 340B drug discount program. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (1199SEIU) has signed onto the coalition, which says the carve out changes will impact vaccine distribution and decimate service for thousands of vulnerable, underserved, and low-income New Yorkers who have been impacted the most by the pandemic.
“Each year, Callen Lorde reaches thousands of patients who would otherwise have nowhere to receive care. I believe with all my heart we improve the health and lives of our patients who receive essential services including housing and behavioral health. All of this is at risk if we lose the income we receive from the 340b program,” said Danielle Pickering, an R.N. at Callen Lorde Community Health Center and member of the New York-based union.
The coalition says hospital facilities and health care support groups statewide have written to the Department of Health to protest the change. They also point to a report—“Why New York Should Maintain its Medicaid Pharmacy Carve-In Approach“—indicating that the change would cost over $1 billion over the next five years. Community health groups also warn that changes to the 340B drug discount program will make it harder to educate people about the vaccine and vaccinate New Yorkers from minority communities.
“The programs 340B helps fund are the same programs that have helped community health centers forge relationships with communities that are justifiably skeptical of the COVID vaccine. The State should be relying on those relationships to build vaccine confidence in Black and brown communities, not undermining them,” said Rose Duhan, CHCANYS president and CEO.
Duhan says changing the program would destroy those relationships and cost insurers hundreds of millions, all without amounting to savings for taxpayers. “We are begging the state: abandon this ill-conceived plan,” she says.
Coalition members include:
- African Services Committee
- AIDS Healthcare Foundation
- Albany Damien Center
- Alliance for Positive Change
- Bridging Access to Care
- Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
- Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS)
- Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA)
- Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief Coalition
- Community Health Initiatives
- Community Healthcare Network
- Damian Family Care Centers
- Drug Policy Alliance
- EngageWell IPA
- Evergreen Health Services
- Finger Lakes Community Health
- Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
- Harlem United
- Hispanic Health Network
- Housing Works
- Latino Commission on AIDS
- Legal Action Center
- New York Immigration Coalition
- New York #Insulin4All
- NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
- Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts
- Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC)
- Ryan Health
- Sun River Health
- The Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Providers of New York State
- The Institute for Family Health
- The LGBT Community Center
- The Mental Health Association in New York State
- The National Working Positive Coalition
- Therapeutic Communities Association of New York (TCANY)
- Treatment Action Group
- Trillium Health
- VIP Community Services