We understand that the news foremost on everyone’s minds at the moment is COVID-19 and the wellbeing of loved ones and the community. Sentry applauds the efforts of everyone working to overcome this challenge, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, scientists and government agencies. We believe it’s important for us to continue being a source of information and a resource to support our customers, now more than ever. We wish you all continued good health as we work together as an industry to combat this common enemy. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.
Sentry attended the Texas Hospital Association Annual Conference & Expo February 13-14 in San Antonio, TX. The two-day event is the association’s premiere event for Texas hospital leaders and features sessions designed for clinical, policy, legal, technology and governance positions.
This year’s event had a focus on government programs, including the CMS 1115 waiver program changes, surprise billing, the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule (in which $11 billion in supplemental payments to states is at risk), media relations resulting from tough topics such as the COVID-19 crisis, and ways to solve the opioid epidemic.
Additionally, 340B was on the minds of hospital leaders during the event. Every hospital administrator and board trustee I engaged with during the conference—from large teaching hospitals to small but mighty critical access hospitals—was aware of the importance of the 340B program and its impact in their communities. It was reassuring to see that hospital leaders understand that 340B is integral to their entire community and not just a small subset of patients.
For example, Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas presented on their utilization of buprenorphine (a drug used to treat opioid use disorder, acute pain, and chronic pain) under the care of a multidisciplinary team (which they called The B Team). Their B Team includes a clinical pharmacist to help treat substance use disorders, in an effort to reduce hospital readmissions. One important strategy employed by The B Team was their use of 340B to help reduce drug costs.
The takeaway from guest keynote Melinda Estes, MD, American Hospital Association chair-elect and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, was that hospitals should “engage stakeholders, align physicians, move our country’s health system forward and be part of policymaking.” I know for certain that 340B hospitals can relate to her priorities for the year.
The conference ended with political experts Karl Rove and Donna Brazile providing insights on the upcoming presidential election, with a lively discussion on hot topics in healthcare, including drug pricing. This Republican/Democrat debate served as a good reminder of the differences in opinion many Americans have when it comes to the struggle of how to “fix” healthcare.
Even going beyond the THA conference, and in only month three of the new year, it’s easy to see that the theme of this year will continue to be 340B engagement. With the latest flurry of news, including reports from MedPAC and the GAO as well as the Administration’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, additional 340B and healthcare news is certainly on the way.
With Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increasing in the United States and a public health emergency declared, we know that 340B hospitals and other covered entities will be critical in providing care to those most in need. We stand ready to assist our customers in meeting the demands of their local communities.
Action is a must. Your focus is COVID-19 and caring for your community today and into the future. As time allows you to finish your 340B Impact report, meet with your government relations team and engage your state and national associations; know that you can check with your 340B vendor to find out how they are preparing for this new decade that will require increased nimbleness, action and knowledge. We are here for you and know you have an important role to play in supporting care of our most vulnerable.