MHA Podcast Explores the 340B Drug Pricing Program

The MHA released another episode of the MiCare Champion Cast, which features interviews with healthcare policy experts in Michigan on key issues that impact healthcare and the health of communities.

On this episode, Karen Cheeseman, CEO of Mackinac Straits Health System (MSHS) and Leah Heffernan, retail pharmacy director at MSHS, explain what the 340B drug pricing program is and how it benefits Michigan’s rural communities.

The federal 340B Drug Pricing Program requires that drug companies sell discounted prescription drugs to entities that provide care in underserved communities, including those in rural communities like MSHS. Those interested in helping protect 340B can visit the MHA Legislative Action Center to contact state lawmakers in a few quick steps.

Cheeseman has been with the health system for 17 years, previously serving as chief operating officer and, prior to that, chief human resource officer. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and served on both the Small and Rural Health Council and Legislative Policy Panel at the MHA. Heffernan has been with Mackinac Straits as a retail pharmacy director for three years, working daily to ensure all operations run smoothly at the system’s retail pharmacy.

This podcast is part of the statewide #MiCareMatters campaign, launched in 2017, which aims to build a network of citizens — “MiCare Champions” — who will be called upon to engage in advocacy efforts to protect access to affordable healthcare services in Michigan. It is currently available via Spotify, iTunes and SoundCloud.

For more information, visit Members with questions or who would like to submit ideas for future podcasts should contact Lucy Ciaramitaro at the MHA.

Tell Legislature to Pass Supplemental Budget for COVID-19 Funding

The Michigan House Appropriations Committee adopted an H-3 substitute for House Bill (HB) 5523 Dec. 8. The COVID-19 supplemental funding bill would allocate $1.2 billion in federal funds, including $300 million for recruitment and retention bonuses for healthcare settings. The appropriation is in response to healthcare workforce shortages and ongoing MHA advocacy efforts. The funds would be allocated to employers to use at their discretion, but employers are prohibited from using vaccination status to determine which employees can receive the funds.

Also included in the bill is $100 million to create eight monoclonal antibody treatment infusion sites to be placed regionally throughout the state. The plan would improve accessibility for residents while reducing the burden on hospitals and their workforce. The state will be able use existing transfusion center infrastructure in this role.

An additional $25 million is allocated to procure the antibody treatment. Lastly, $300 million is planned for COVID-19 testing in schools along with funding for vaccine distribution.
The House Appropriations Committee took testimony on the bill while negotiations continue among lawmakers. Member support for HB 5523 is critical to prioritizing those negotiations during the few remaining legislative session days.

The MHA urges hospitals and healthcare champions to contact their elected officials to encourage passage of this legislation before the Legislature adjourns for the calendar year. The MHA Legislative Action Center offers assistance in telling legislators this funding is critical to hospitals across Michigan that continue to battle this COVID-19 surge. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.