Senator probes Cleveland Clinic, Bon Secours over 340B program

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, opened an investigation Sept. 28 into how Cleveland Clinic and a Bon Secours hospital is involved in the 340B drug pricing program.

340B is a federal drug pricing program that has seen scrutiny from drugmakers and support from participating hospitals. The program allows eligible hospitals and healthcare facilities that serve uninsured, low-income and rural patients to buy drugs at discounted prices.

The senator asked Cleveland Clinic and Bon Secours' Richmond (Va.) Community Hospital to share how they use savings from the 340B program to improve patient care. 

For Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Cassidy questioned why its flagship hospital was deemed a rural referral center in April 2020 "even though it is located near central Cleveland," according to a letter he sent to the hospital. 

"Our participation in the 340B program supports our mission of caring for underserved populations and is compliant with the requirements and guidelines for participation in the program," a Cleveland Clinic spokesperson told Becker's. "The 340B program is an important tool that allows eligible hospitals, including ours, to further stretch limited resources to provide more comprehensive services to the communities they serve."

Richmond Community Hospital generated more than $90 million in profits in 2021 — making it one of the most-profitable hospitals in the state, Dr. Cassidy said in his letter to Marriottsville, Md.-based Bon Secours. He accused the system of "stripping Richmond Community Hospital of vital services" and allegedly deciding not to fill open positions after multiple specialists retired.

A Bon Secours spokesperson told Becker's, "Richmond Community Hospital operates its 340B program with the highest level of integrity. We look forward to cooperating with Senator Cassidy and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee regarding their inquiry, which continues to paint a misleading picture of the high-quality, compassionate care Richmond Community Hospital provides to the City of Richmond and the East End community."

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