RAND Launches Initiative to Study Drug Discount Program, Make Recommendations for Program Improvements

For Release

October 21, 2013

The RAND Corporation is launching a new research initiative to provide objective and nonpartisan analysis about the impact and future of the 340B program, a major federal program that gives safety net hospitals and other health care providers access to discounted outpatient medications.

The program began in 1992 to help providers extend care to vulnerable populations, including the indigent and uninsured, and has grown from about 100 hospitals to thousands of hospitals, medical clinics and other health care organizations today. With this growth, a vigorous and often partisan debate emerged on the intent, scope and implementation of the program.

“The 340B program has evolved into a large and controversial program,” said Dr. Soeren Mattke, a senior scientist at RAND. “Our goal is to facilitate a nonpartisan and evidence-based policy discussion about the program involving a broad range of stakeholders.”

The RAND 340B Program will be co-chaired by Mattke and Jeffrey Lewis, chief operating officer at EHIM, a Michigan-based pharmacy benefits management company, who was closely involved in crafting the original 340B legislation as a former Senate staff member.

The research effort hopes to accomplish three primary tasks during its first year. The first is to create an objective, factual description of the program including its history, evolution and current status.

The second is an analysis about how the federal Affordable Care Act will affect the 340B program, both through direct changes and through indirect effects such as Medicaid expansion. The third goal is to provide a response to the government's proposed changes to program regulations during the public comment period.

“The 340B program has become more complex through regulations that today entangle both the health care providers and the pharmaceutical industry,” Lewis said. “Working with all groups that have an interest in the regulation, we can put forward recommendations to improve the program for all participating parties.”

The RAND research program work will be supported by funding from professionals, corporations, foundations and others.

RAND Health is the nation's largest independent health policy research program, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on health care costs, quality and public health preparedness, among other topics.

About the RAND Corporation

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