September 20, 2021.
Raleigh, NC: The Medication Cost Transparency Act (Senate Bill 257) was signed into law today by Governor Roy Cooper after unanimously passing both chambers of the NC General Assembly earlier this month. This critical legislation protects North Carolinians’ access to care in rural and underserved communities of the state by outlawing discrimination by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) against Community Health Centers’ (CHCs’) pharmacy programs over their participation in the 340B Drug Discount program. Thanks to these efforts, North Carolina’s CHCs can continue doing what they do best—provide comprehensive primary care services, including medical, behavioral health, dental, and pharmacy care, to North Carolinians in rural and underserved communities without regard for their insurance status or ability to pay.
The 340B Drug Discount program enables CHCs to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more patients and providing more comprehensive health care services. By discounting the cost of medications for health centers, the 340B program enables health centers to provide affordable medications for their patients and reinvest savings into other key services, like behavioral health, dental, and school-based health programs.
In recent years, PBMs found ways to “pickpocket” CHCs’ 340B savings through discriminatory contracts, boosting PBMs’ bottom lines by forcing CHCs to give up the savings that were meant to benefit their vulnerable patients. If not for Senate Bill 257, 94% of participating Community Health Centers may have to cut patient services supported by 340B savings
On behalf of the state’s 42 Community Health Center organizations that cared for over 685,000 patients in 2020, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association (NCCHCA) thanks Governor Cooper for signing this bill into law, and we extend our gratitude to our leaders in the NC General Assembly, especially Senator Jim Perry and Representative Wayne Sasser, for protecting the primary care safety net as part of this legislative effort.