U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who has a long track record of support for 340B covered entities, is the new leader of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee with influence over 340B policy.
Baldwin announced yesterday she will serve as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Baldwin succeeds Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), another longtime 340B covered entity ally.
Baldwin co-sponsored successful legislation during the last session of Congress that protected hospitals from losing their 340B eligibility due to changes in payer and patient mix during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also helped organize Senate letters to Trump administration health care officials about drug manufacturers’ conditions on 340B pharmacy and the administration’s nearly 30% cut in Medicare Part B reimbursement for hospitals’ 340B-acquired drugs.
The Senate Labor, HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, along with its House counterpart, determine funding levels for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department as well as its agencies such as the Health Resources and Services Administration and its Office of Pharmacy Affairs. The committee also often weighs on 340B policy matters when its passes its annual funding measure for HHS.
While an ally of 340B hospitals and hospitals in general, Baldwin wrote Joseph Impicciche, Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Health, earlier this week to express concern over service cuts the Catholic health system’s allegedly made at two Milwaukee area hospitals that serve a large low-income population. In a strongly worded letter to the system, Baldwin requests a large swath of information including details about Ascension’s investments, charity care commitment, debt collection practices and how the system used its COVID-19 relief funds. Baldwin did not reference or request anything related to the system or its hospitals’ participation in the 340B program.
Baldwin is a trail blazer. She was the first woman from Wisconsin to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She was also the first open lesbian to be elected to the U.S House and subsquently to the U.S. Senate.