Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Prescription Drug Prices out of Control

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Prescription Drug Prices out of Control

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom VanOsdol

The health care industry is undergoing dramatic transformation as we shift from fee-for-service reimbursement to a fee-for-value payment system.

This will promote the value and outcome of the health care services we deliver.

We're focused on providing the best care for the people we serve, measuring the efficiency of our healthcare delivery and striving to improve outcomes at a lower cost.

At St. Vincent's HealthCare and Ascension, the nation's leading nonprofit health care system, we have embraced this transformation because it's the right thing to do.

PRESCRIPTION COSTS SKYROCKET

Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle that we see to providing better care at a lower cost is the astronomical price increases of prescription drugs.

Sadly, prescription drug spending continues to spiral out of control.

Last year, according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, about $457 billion was spent on prescription drugs, accounting for 16.7 percent of overall personal healthcare services.

Prescription medication prices are increasing faster than any other aspect of health care. At St. Vincent's HealthCare, we experienced an increase of $2,235,752 in our drug spending last year. That means $2,235,752 less that we can invest in patient and community care.

Unfortunately, while this negative trend is occurring, a bipartisan program that Congress created more than two decades ago to help needy patients gain better access to prescription medicines is at risk.

The 340B Drug Pricing Program requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations at much reduced prices so that vulnerable people are able to afford the best care possible.

And while 340B drugs now amount to only 2 percent of all medicines purchased in the U.S., this program makes an enormous impact when it comes to making drug therapy more affordable for our patients.

Hospital systems across the country - particularly those in disadvantaged, underserved and rural communities - rely significantly on the 340B program to better serve our communities. …

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