Obama administration begins enrollment into drug discount program

Children's hospitals and other medical centers on Monday became eligible to enroll in a Medicaid program that offers discounted drugs, as called for in the healthcare reform law.

As many as 1,500 additional hospitals — including children’s hospitals, free-standing cancer centers, critical access hospitals, rural referral centers and sole community hospitals — are now eligible for the 340B program, which provides discounts on brand-name drugs to facilities that serve poor people. Factoring in clinics and health centers, the number of sites participating in the 340B program will rise from more than 14,000 to nearly 20,000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS estimates the facilities will be able to save an average of 20 percent to 50 percent of the cost for covered drugs thanks to the program.

The drug industry agreed to the expansion during the healthcare reform debate but beat back proposals to expand the discount to inpatient drugs, which are delivered at the hospital. The discount only applies to outpatient drugs.

Entities that have completed the registration process will be added as their eligibility is confirmed, according to HHS. The registration process will require at least three days of processing time. 

All required documents need to be submitted by September 27. The rolling, online admission process ends Sept. 30.