A parent only wants the best medical care for their child. When a child is terminally ill, clearly this sentiment becomes even more pronounced. While not all of us are parents, we can all agree that no one wants to see a sick child go without the medicine or care that they need, and it’s this kind of shared mentality has prompted the very best of health care legislation for our kids, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, there have been other smaller provisions in legislation over the years that have helped ensure that each of our children receive the healthcare they need—one of which is known as the 340B program, a section of the Public Health Service Act. The 340B program requires drug manufacturers to provide discounts to children’s hospitals, and specific health care providers such as AIDS clinics, hospitals, or community health centers that care for largely low-income populations.

Last week, an article surfaced in The New York Times noting that drug companies have decided to capitalize on an oversight regarding 340B in the Affordable Care Act. Due to an error in the drafting of the legislation, the new health care law now prevents children’s hospitals from receiving discounts on “orphan drugs”, drugs that are used to treat rare diseases— anything from leukemia to muscular dystrophy. Manufacturers are now claiming that they can’t make a profit if they sell these drugs at a discount when they have done so in years prior. To further put this in perspective, due this change in 340B, children’s hospitals are now losing hundreds of millions of dollars, limiting their ability to purchase life saving medicine, while putting our sickest children at risk.

While this action taken by the pharmaceutical companies is completely shameful, there is still hope in sight. The House recently passed a provision in the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 that amends this oversight for children’s hospitals in 340B. A complimentary Senate bill (S.11) created by Republican Senator Brown (R-MA) is also still pending consideration. However, with only a week or two left in the 111th Congress, it’s hard to say whether Senator Brown’s bill will be taken up by the chamber. We hope that our Senators understand the urgency of this issue, and hope for swift passage of an amending bill to ensure our children’s health is not endangered.