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On the Hill: Lawmakers Push for Nurse Staffing, 340B Protections

Even as both chambers of Congress are in recess, a bipartisan group of 197 lawmakers this week sent a letter to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator Jeffrey Zients about dire hospital workforce shortages, particularly among nurses.

The letter raises concerns that nurse staffing agencies might be inflating costs, forcing hospitals to pay exorbitant rates when they are struggling to maintain adequate staffing and seeing higher volumes of COVID-19 patients. This is particularly troubling for essential hospitals, which operate on thinner margins due to the large amount of uncompensated care they provide.

The letter calls for federal agencies with competition and consumer protection authority to investigate whether these actions violate consumer protection laws.

Bipartisan Letter on Protecting 340B

Six members of Congress Jan. 21 penned a bipartisan letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging enforcement action against drug manufacturers that continue to deny 340B Drug Pricing Program pricing to qualifying health care providers through contract pharmacies. The lawmakers enclosed a similar letter, signed by more than 200 representatives last year, urging the administration to protect the 340B program from unlawful manufacturer actions. Many essential hospitals rely on the 340B program to ensure equitable health care in their communities.

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About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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