Dozens rally at Trillium against state changes to prescription drug program

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Dozens of Trillium Health employees and supporters rallied outside the Monroe Avenue clinic on Monday, asking Governor Kathy Hochul to stop changes in the 340B prescription drug program, set to go into effect on Saturday. Trillium says the changes will take away millions of dollars it depends on to fund numerous health care programs.

The State is planning to change the way Medicaid patients access their prescription drugs and how health care providers are reimbursed for them. Trillium says if that happens the way it’s planned right now, it’ll have huge impacts on the programs it runs, particularly in communities of Color, and other underserved populations.

“340B saves lives. Save our safety net,” was what they chanted. The rally was quick, but dozens of Trillium Health staff members, and their supporters, want to send a clear message to Albany. President, and CEO Andrea DeMeo says the 340B federal program is vitally important.

It allows federally qualified health care systems to purchase pharmaceutical drugs at discounted prices. They’re then fully reimbursed by the state, leaving a difference, which is turned into revenue to fund these programs.

“We rely on 340B income to run such programs as our mobile access clinic, our intensive HIV prevention and testing service, and care for people with opioid dependence,” said DeMeo.

Besides young children and those who depend on Medicaid, members of the LGBTQ community also rely on dozens of these health care programs.

“Historically New York State has been a safe haven for my community, but the proposed cuts to 340B threatens to deny critical funding that health centers statewide need to provide comprehensive, and affirming care to us,” said E. Clark, a client and employee at Trillium Health.

Trillium Health is not the only health care system that would suffer. U of R Medicine and Rochester Regional Health also stand to lose millions of dollars.

Peter Robinson, VP of Office of Government at U of R said, “For us it involves cancer care, behavioral health care, the children’s hospital that’s so vital to all of us in this community. All of those programs are supported by 340B.”

If Trillium is forced to cut programs, we asked DeMeo which would go first?

“I don’t know yet. We don’t know what the dollars are. We don’t know the impact. I mentioned there’s very little transparency from Albany. We do all that we can through fund raising and grant making to keep our programs intact, but again 340B program to continue our services,” said DeMeo.

Not everyone is opposed to this change. The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York says this new way of doing business will help its members keep theirs solvent, adding any delay would “Be disastrous for New York’s eight million Medicaid patients.”