‘Unfathomable’ cuts may hit care centers
Western New York’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, including The Chautauqua Center in Jamestown and Dunkirk, called on New York state to reverse or delay an item that could mean a devastating loss in funding in the 2021 budget, which is currently being negotiated.
The “340B carve out,” as its termed, 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 carve out must take place by April 1, by the state Senate voting in favor of Bill S2520 and the state Assembly voting in favor of Bill A1671A.
Every Western New York center has a lot to lose if a 340B carve out is included in the state budget, especially The Chautauqua Center and Evergreen Health in Jamestown.
“The 340B carveout will force us to layoff 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, chief executive officer 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 federal program 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 state budget includes the removal of pharmacy benefits from managed care plans to fee for service, called a “340B carve out.” If the 340B carve out is not removed from the budget by April 1, the state would be revoking the benefit from community-based health providers. If the 340B carve out is implemented without change, the safety net population served by area will bear the burden of this loss of resource, with a severe gap in funding for services, including: dental care; primary care services, including preventative care like wellness check-ups; mental health services; substance abuse services; food pantry services; transportation services; sexually transmitted disease screenings and HIV specialty care
All centers 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 their ability to pay and work to address healthcare disparities and barriers to accessing care.