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Samaritan Physicians Advocate for Rural Health Care

Medical leaders from Lincoln County joined a chorus of voices advocating for the protection of rural health care during the Annual Rural Health Policy Institute, held Feb. 6 through 8, in Washington D.C.

Lesley Ogden, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital, attended the annual event hosted by the National Rural Health Association. She was joined by general surgeon Arun Raman, MD, and family medicine physician Marilyn Fraser, MD, both of whom practice in Lincoln City.

The agenda was packed full of issues related to rural health care, with a focus on the disparity between rural and urban health care, the opioid crisis, the impact of the Great Recession on rural America and many more challenging topics, including “Protecting Rural Providers from 340B Attacks.”

This last item refers to a 28.5 percent reduction in payments to hospitals that took effect on Jan. 1. The 340B Drug Discount Program is a federal program that requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to certain health care entities at significantly reduced prices. The National Rural Health Association is working on two fronts to repeal this cut -- through federal legislation and through the judicial system (in the form of a lawsuit against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking to overturn the rule).

While in Washington D.C., the Samaritan physicians and members of the Oregon Office of Rural Health met with some of Oregon’s congressional delegation to urge consideration of health care protections.

“The 340B program is critically important in our efforts to serve our patients, many of whom are low-income,” Dr. Ogden explained. “It enables us to make life-saving drugs available to people who otherwise would not be able to obtain them. As a non-profit hospital system, Samaritan reinvests the savings received through the program into additional programs and services to meet the health care needs of our communities. In the long-run, this program saves the federal government money.”

In photo: While visiting the nation’s capital, Dr. Lesley Ogden, second from left, Dr. Marilyn Fraser, second from right, and Dr. Arun Raman, far right, visited Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, center, during his Thursday morning constituent coffee. The Samaritan physicians, along with staff from the Oregon Office of Rural Health, were advocating for rural health issues like the 340B drug program.