Drug program protects patients

The Congress Blog post by Ellen Weaver and Lindsay Boyd “Congress waking up to 340B corporate slush fund” (May 26) falsely claims that hospitals are exploiting the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

The truth is that the hospitals eligible for this necessary program stretch their scarce federal resources to do more for patients. For example, they are expanding care, providing services to more patients and reducing the price of pharmaceuticals. In addition, increasing patients’ access to drugs helps to improve health outcomes and reduce future healthcare spending.

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The program was signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush to help hospitals care for vulnerable patients by combating the ever-increasing pharmaceutical costs. 340B requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide a discount to covered entities. By doing so, the program reduces government spending and saves state and federal taxpayer dollars. Drugs purchased through 340B represent only 2 percent of the $325 billion in annual U.S. drug purchases, a small amount that delivers a big benefit.

Since the program’s inception, Congress has acted to expand benefits to other safety-net hospitals, including critical access hospitals, rural referral centers, sole community hospitals and free-standing cancer hospitals. Drugs purchased by these hospitals account for a small fraction of drugs sold under the 340B program.

The truth is that without the program, some hospitals would not be able to provide the array of services their communities depend on, jeopardizing care for our nation’s most vulnerable patients. In the end, it’s patients who will suffer the most if this valuable program is compromised.

From Rick Pollack, executive vice president, American Hospital Association, Washington, D.C.


Tax all types of corporations fairly

As a small-business owner, I am concerned by what I’ve read and heard regarding Congress’s efforts to overhaul our overly burdensome tax system. I support reforming the tax system to make it simpler and easier for all businesses to understand. However, I am concerned that what Congress is proposing will be a tax reform system geared toward large corporations that leaves small businesses holding the bag and without any relief.

I ask that Congress treat S-corporations and C-corporations the same and not give bigger tax advantages to C-corporations. Lowering the corporate tax rate for C-corporations without leveling the playing field for S-corporations would create a competitive advantage in favor of C-corporations.

In my view, effective tax rate parity between C-corporations and pass-through entities defines true tax reform. Effective tax rate parity cannot be achieved if the tax rate for C-corporations is reduced by nearly 30 percent, giving them a 15-point advantage over pass-through entities.

Rewriting our tax code so that all businesses receive a fair shake is the only approach Congress should consider. The only way to accomplish this is through a comprehensive approach to tax reform. As a practical reality, no combination of credits, deductions or exclusions will bring about tax rate parity and produce a fair, simple, transparent and pro-growth tax code.

The president’s approach to tax reform, seemingly endorsed by a large number in Congress, is contrary to the aim of true tax reform and contrary to the mission of small businesses all across this country. Real tax reform means a tax code that no longer picks winners and losers depending on how a business is legally structured or its particular industry.

Congress should not consider an approach that would disadvantage businesses that employ two-thirds of America’s workers, create more jobs and pay more in taxes.

From Mike Tucker, West Friendship, Md.