Discount drugs

Due to an increase in Medicaid and underinsured individuals in the area, the Owatonna Hospital has once again qualified to partake in a federal program that will give them access to certain outpatient drugs at discounted prices. (Christina Victoria Craft/Unsplash)

An increase in Medicaid and uninsured residents means the Allina Health System in Owatonna qualifies once again for a federal drug discount program and it plans to put the savings toward purchasing more of the opioid antidote Naloxone for its system.

Owatonna Hospital President David Albrecht informed the Owatonna City Council last week that the city has once again qualified to participate in the drug discount program established under Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act. The program enables the health care provider to purchase of certain outpatient drugs at discounted prices.

The city last qualified for the program in 2012.

“What this obligates the hospital to do is to continue to provide reduced and discount pricing to indigent, uninsured and underinsured residents in our community,” he said.

In 2019, Albrecht said $4.7 million worth of care was provided to such individuals, and participating in the program will provide an annual value of $100,000 for the hospital. According to the outline of the program, enrolled hospitals and other covered entities can achieve average savings of 25-30% on pharmaceutical purchases.

To demonstrate standing as a good steward of 340B programs, Tony Collings-Kwong, the portfolio manager for Pharmacy Services Allina Health, wrote in a letter to the city the multidisciplinary Allina Health 340B Compliance Committee has committed to use 340B program savings to prevent opioid overdoses in Allina Health’s 12 emergency departments, including Owatonna Hospital, by providing each with Naloxone kits.

To participate in the program, the city council had to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the hospital. The council unanimously approved the memorandum.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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