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All 6 of WNY's FQHCs call on state to reverse or delay 340B 'carve out'

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Fri, Mar 19th 2021 09:45 am

FQHCs urge delegation to vote to reverse or delay 340B in budget on behalf of thousands of vulnerable & marginalized patients

Earlier this week, all of Western New York’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) together called on New York to reverse or delay the 340B “carve out” included in the 2021 state budget, which is currently being negotiated. The 340B “carve out,” they said, “would mean a devastating loss in funding for the region’s most vulnerable and traditionally marginalized patients, which include communities of color, individuals living with HIV, refugees and the LGBTQ+ community.”

A reversal or delay of the 340B measure must take place by April 1, by the New York State Senate voting in favor of Bill S2520 and the New York State Assembly voting in favor of Bill A1671A.

A press release said, “Every Western New York FQHC has a lot to lose if a 340B ‘carve out’ is included in the 2021 New York state budget.”

There are six FQHCs in Western New York:

  1. The Chautauqua Center – Dunkirk, Jamestown
  2. Community Health Center of Buffalo Inc. – Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Lockport, Niagara Falls
  3. Evergreen Health – Buffalo, Jamestown
  4. Jericho Road – Buffalo
  5. Neighborhood Health Center – Blasdell, Buffalo, Hamburg
  6. Universal Primary Care – Bradford, Cuba, Houghton, Olean, Salamanca

340B is a federal program that allows safety net providers that care for the sickest, poorest and hardest to serve patients in medically underserved areas to purchase outpatient prescription drugs at significantly reduced prices. The proposed New York state budget includes the removal of pharmacy benefits from managed care plans to fee for service, called a 340B “carve out.” If the measure is not removed from the budget by April 1, New York would be revoking the 340B benefit from community-based health providers.

The press release continued, “If the 340B ‘carve out’ is implemented without change, the safety net population served by area FQHCs will bear the burden of this loss of resource, with a severe gap in funding for services” That, they said, includes:

  • Dental care
  • Primary care services, including preventative care such as wellness check-ups
  • Mental health services
  • Substance abuse services
  • Food pantry services
  • Transportation services
  • Sexually transmitted disease screenings
  • HIV specialty care

FQHCs are community-based health care providers that receive federal funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide primary health care services to underserved populations. They accept patients regardless of an ability to pay, and work to address health care disparities and barriers to accessing care.

All six FQHCs in Western New York are calling on the Western New York delegation to vote for a reversal or delay in the 340B “carve out.”

“The 340B ‘carve out’ will force us to lay off staff and close some of our vital programs that our community greatly rely on. It is unfathomable that, in the middle of a pandemic, when health care providers have continued to provide high levels of quality health services, the state would want to redistribute these resources to themselves,” said Mike Pease, CEO of The Chautauqua Center. “If not for these resources, many of us would have difficulty breaking even. The health centers provide services to populations no one else will care for and often by the time they come to us their care is much more involved. I urge you to please stop this ‘carve out’ from happening. Let those of us providing the care determine how these resources are best utilized.”

“The current COVID-19 pandemic illustrates just how important the 340B program is with regard to the managed care plans allowing safety net providers to provide care in our communities,” said LaVonne Ansari, Ph.D., CEO of Community Health Center of Buffalo Inc.­ “Removing benefits from managed care plans would be catastrophic to safety net providers.”

“Our community health centers are this region’s safety net. We serve a majority of patients that are in a Medicaid-managed care plan, and proceeding with this ‘carve out’ would disproportionately impact our most vulnerable patients and a majority of our patient populations,” said Raymond Ganoe, president and CEO of Evergreen Health. “At Evergreen Heath, a 340B ‘carve out’ would affect 70% of Evergreen’s patient population, because they are in a managed care plan. That’s a 70% loss in revenue, when our patients need us the most. We need to ensure that pharmacy remains a plan benefit for Medicaid-managed care so that the FQHCs across the region can continue to do our important and lifesaving work.”

“Preservation of the 340B benefit for Medicaid is critically important for Jericho Road to continue our important mission to serve the vulnerable in Buffalo,” said Myron Glick, M.D., founder and CEO of Jericho Road.

“The effect of the proposed ‘carve out’ is a big step backwards. The 340B program allows community health centers and other safety net providers to expand and sustain the care we provide," said Joanne Haefner, CEO of Neighborhood Health Center. “These dollars create a unique opportunity for us to provide a rich complement of clinical and support services and, for Neighborhood Health Center, that includes addressing social determinants of health. … Housing support, transportation, food security support, access to legal services are only a few of the ways we ensure our community has services that would otherwise be unavailable.”

“Medicaid 340B revenue is a critical part of what helps Universal Primary Care serve our over 11,000 patients from some of the most remote parts of Cattaraugus, Allegany and McKean (Pennsylvania) counties,” said Angela Langdon, CEO of Universal Primary Care. “We cannot afford to lose any of this important ongoing revenue that we direct toward caring for the most vulnerable populations we serve. The state has just received a great amount of revenue to fill the budget deficit; we count on this revenue to keep us going year to year.”

About Western New York’s FQHCs: The Chautauqua Center, Community Health Center of Buffalo Inc., Evergreen Health, Jericho Road, Neighborhood Health Center and Universal Primary Care.

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