Northern Light Mercy Hospital 340B Benefits

FY22 program savings: $3,179,796
 
Northern Light Mercy Hospital has been providing compassionate care to those in need since 1918. As a member of Northern Light Health, Mercy Hospital is committed to building a better healthcare system for the people of Maine.
 
Participation in the 340B program
Mercy Hospital’s mission is to carry out the healing work of Christ by providing clinically excellent, compassionate health care for all, with special concern for the poor and disadvantaged. This mission is in direct alignment with our participation in the 340B program, which helps us to provide comprehensive healthcare services to the communities we serve in the greater Portland region.
 
As a 340B hospital, we purchase medications for qualified patients at a reduced rate from drug companies. The savings from the 340B program allow the hospital to stretch scarce resources and increase access to care for our most vulnerable patients.
 
Mercy Hospital is eligible to participate in the 340B program because we provide care to a disproportionate share of low-income Medicare and MaineCare (Medicaid) patients. While some services are covered by insurance, Medicare and MaineCare reimburse us at a payment rate far below the actual cost to provide care. Other services provide significant benefit to our patients but are not covered by any insurance program.
 
Mercy Hospital has invested in programming and community support efforts over and above the savings it receives from the 340B program. For example, the hospital’s 340B savings of $3 million are a fraction of the hospital’s total community benefit activity in 2022—an estimated $15 million, which includes charity care ($1.29 million) and uncompensated care costs from Medicaid ($13.9 million).
 
The communities we serve
The hospital, in partnership with area health systems, conducts community health needs assessments (CHNA) to identify the most important health priorities and an implementation strategy to address them. Mental health, social determinants of health, access to care, and substance and alcohol use topped the list of concerns in our service area based on surveys, town hall meetings, and stakeholder interviews. Our most recent Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) provides a community snapshot, CHNA findings, and related activities.
 
340B program benefits
The hospital also maintains an array of services for the community, and the 340B program helps sustain these operations, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Access to care:
    • Full-time financial counselors: Staff are onsite to ensure patients have easy access to help with financial assistance applications, enrolling in the insurance exchange, filling out Medicaid applications, and questions with billing.
    • Preventative care: Mercy has six primary care clinics in the region to keep care closer to our patients and remove common barriers to access.
  • Behavioral health: An integrated behavioral health team is embedded in all primary care practices, allowing for convenient, warm “hand-offs” between primary care providers and counseling services.
  • Emergency care: Mercy’s emergency department delivers expert care while keeping close to the community and its needs. It runs a rapid access treatment program to provide patients immediate relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms while also initiating ongoing support in the community that increases a patient’s chances for recovery.
  • Specialty care: From diabetes and endocrinology care to cancer care services, our specialty practices maintain an array of services that are critical to the community. Mercy’s specialty care practices, in addition to its primary care practices, use screening tools to directly connect patients to area resources. An example of this is the distribution of bags of food to patients who identify as food insecure.
  • Greater Portland Addiction Collaborative (GPAC): Mercy Hospital is an active convener and participant in GPAC, which develops and implements comprehensive approaches for treatment of uninsured persons with substance use disorder. GPAC brings together many community partners to implement solutions to address this ongoing community need.
  • Health outreach work: Clinicians and their teams host health education in the community and virtually. These sessions are offered free of charge and allow members of the community to interact with clinicians on health topics, such as providing education on the most common health issues facing the community or on the importance of health screenings to prevent cancer. Mercy also has clinical teams who respond to community needs outside of the hospital and medical practices, such as providing primary care to asylum seekers in shelters.
  • Perinatal patients with opioid use disorder: A partnership with the state of Maine on the MaineMOM program, which aims to improve care for pregnant and postpartum people with opioid use disorder and their infants by integrating maternal and substance use treatment services.
  • Cumberland County Jail: Through a partnership with the Cumberland County Jail, the hospital accepts referrals for people who are leaving jail with substance use disorder.
 
The importance of maintaining the 340B program
As Mainers, we are in this together. And, at Northern Light Health, we are dedicated to ensuring our communities have access to the very best in healthcare. We advocate to make sure essential services are maintained. Reducing or eliminating our participation in the 340B program would greatly increase the risk that we would not be able to continue the comprehensive level of services provided to our patients.