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Opinion: Missourians Will Benefit From SB 751

On May 17, Missouri lawmakers stood up for patients by adopting Senate Bill 751. The legislation will help hospitals continue to provide medication and services to seniors and patients who could not afford it otherwise in Bolivar and the surrounding communities served by Citizens Memorial Hospital.

Senate Bill 751 bars drug manufacturers from restricting the number of pharmacies a hospital or community health center may contract with to dispense drugs under the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program. The savings provided through the 340B program subsidize patient care, pharmacy access and community-based services offered by hospitals and other providers. Patients at CMH benefit from the program, as do patients at hospitals and clinics throughout the state.

The 340B program was intended to provide financial relief to hospitals, clinics and other eligible participating organizations that serve large numbers of uninsured and low-income patients. Not every hospital can participate. For many of the hospitals and clinics that can, the savings realized through 340B are frequently passed on to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients.

Drug manufacturers want to limit the number of pharmacies contracted to participate in the program solely to limit the number of discounts they provide. The federal government’s guidance says they can’t limit this aspect of the program, but they are doing it anyway. Senate Bill 751 prohibits this practice so that patients can access needed medications closer to home.

Drug makers’ goal of keeping local pharmacies out of the program hurts patients and local providers. When local pharmacies can’t participate, it harms local businesses and limits patients’ timely access to their necessary medication. At the same time, hospitals and other providers have fewer resources to offset the costs of care and invest in local services for patients.

One of our local patients, Jodie Gregg, is a 340B program beneficiary. The medication to control her Crohn’s disease was far too expensive for her to afford out of pocket. With the help of CMH and the 340B program, she has access to her medication and is in remission. Jodie visited lawmakers in Jefferson City to share her success story thanks to 340B. There are thousands of stories like hers in Missouri.

The 340B program is essential to CMH and our patients. In many communities — especially rural communities — it is a lifeline for both patients and the hospitals that care for them. The loss of 340B discounts threatens the financial viability of some Missouri hospitals. In some cases, 340B discounts literally save the hospital from closure. In other cases, 340B savings ensure that critical services, such as birthing centers, can remain open and improve health outcomes for moms and babies.

In 2024, hospitals, clinics and citizens like Jodie made the case that the 340B program is a lifesaver for thousands of Missourians. Lawmakers agreed and acted by adopting the bill with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority. They deserve our thanks.