RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called for a federal investigation Tuesday into a Bon Secours hospital accused of exploiting a legal loophole to profit off of Richmond’s low-income residents at the expense of their health.
Citing an extensive New York Times investigation, Stoney said Bon Secours utilized “loopholes” in the 340B program, designed to reduce drug prices for low-income Americans, to “[increase] profit margins for the hospital system while they have reduced services in one of our predominantly Black communities.”
The hospital at the center of the investigation is Richmond Community Hospital, located in Richmond’s East End, which is run by Bon Secours, a Maryland-based not-for-profit health system.
In a statement, Bon Secours categorically denied the findings of the Times investigation, citing their religious affiliation in their defense.
“As a faith-based, Mission-driven health care ministry, Bon Secours works to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities,” a statement from the Maryland-based non-profit reads. “To suggest that we don’t operate in full support of our important Mission is without merit and we take issue with such baseless allegations.”
But the times investigation included extensive documentation of the hospital’s finances, showing that the hospital system pocketed millions in profits while the facilities continued to decay – leading to sometimes fatal consequences.
Stoney called on the Biden administration to immediately begin a broad investigation into Bon Secours’ use of the 340B program.
“I request for your administration to urgently investigate the effectiveness and unintended consequences of 340B,” he wrote. “Not only regarding Bon Secours in the City of Richmond, but in other localities across the country.”
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine also spoke with 8News about the program, saying that the program was vital to expanding healthcare to low-income and minority communities, and any reforms should strengthen the program, not roll it back.
“The thought that somebody might be using this program as a kind-of profit center rather than to really help people was very, very troubling,” Kaine said. “So, we’ve always got to make sure we hear a response before we decide what to do — but I think Bon Secours owes everybody an answer on this.”