Objectives: To evaluate whether hospital entry into the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which entitles eligible hospitals to discounts on drug purchases and intends for hospitals to use associated savings to devote more resources to the care of low-income populations, is associated with changes in hospital provision of uncompensated care.
Study design: We analyzed secondary data on 340B participation and uncompensated care provision among general acute care hospitals and critical access hospitals from 2003 to 2015. We constructed an annual, hospital-level data set on hospital 340B participation from the Office of Pharmacy Information Systems and on uncompensated care provision from the Hospital Cost Reporting Information System.
Methods: Focusing on 2 periods of program expansion, we separately analyzed trends in uncompensated care costs for 340B-eligible general acute care hospitals and critical access hospitals, stratified by year of 340B program entry, including a stratum of eligible hospitals that never participated. We used a differences-in-differences approach to quantify whether there were differential changes in provision of uncompensated care after hospitals enter the 340B program relative to hospitals that did not participate or had not yet entered.
Results: We do not find evidence that hospitals increased provision of uncompensated care after entry into the 340B program differentially more than hospitals that never entered or had not yet entered the program.
Conclusions: Relying on hospitals to invest surplus into care for the underserved without marginal incentives to do so or strong oversight may not be an effective strategy to expand safety-net care.