In the News
PARAGOULD — U.S. Sen. John Boozman got an earful Friday from health care providers on a visit to Northeast Arkansas.
Boozman attended a meeting at Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould with city and county officials, state legislators and hospital staff. And although the context of the meeting was COVID-19 actions and responses, there were other issues statewide that are pressing.
For one thing, there is a great deal of concern regarding funding for the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which allows covered entities (including community health centers and public and nonprofit hospitals that serve a high number of Medicaid patients) to purchase drugs at discounted rates and offer these rates to low-income, uninsured and under-insured patients.
“If the 340B program goes away,” said AMMC CEO Barry Davis, “it’s going to hurt.”
Boozman said his visits across the state so far had given him “good ammunition to go back and talk to our fellow legislators about protecting some of these programs.”
Another concern raised to Boozman was that reimbursements from Medicare Advantage programs for services and supplies provided have been laughably low, threatening the very existence of small hospitals.
As an example, Davis told Boozman that as long as funds came directly from the federal government, there had been no problems. But once the “middle man” of Medicare Advantage providers came into play, the reimbursement to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center for services and supplies that cost $34,000 totaled $8.32 in one case. In another, Davis said, a bill for $6,000 saw $8.18 in reimbursement, while in a third case, an expenditure of $16,000 by the hospital was reimbursed at $72.
“This is a real threat,” Davis told the senator.