One of the biggest challenges the 340B community has faced over the years is a lack of program knowledge at a local level. As I reported in my May column, Community Voices for 340B (CV340B) is the first grassroots organization solely focused on the voices of the patients and communities that ultimately benefit from the 340B program.
CV340B aims to educate, enable and inspire local support for the 340B program by helping individuals and community leaders tell their side of the story and explain why a sustained and vibrant 340B program is vital for protecting and improving public health — especially for medically under-served populations.
Earlier this week, close to 50 Michigan community leaders gathered in the capital city of Lansing to learn more about the 340B program and to share ideas about communicating its importance. CV340B’s Michigan field director, Rhiannon Marshall, and Sparrow Health’s long-time government relations officer, John Shaski, took the lead in organizing the event. They invited 340B covered entities, community leaders, and activists who care deeply about ensuring that vulnerable patients have access to high-quality, affordable healthcare. Attendees included local representatives from health trade groups, AARP, the United Way, the faith-based community, and patient organizations.
“One of the community leaders told me that she has been active on healthcare issues for two decades and that her husband is a physician. Nonetheless, it was the first time they had heard of 340B,” said CV340B’s Peggy Tighe. Tighe was particularly excited to see Michigan State student leaders approach her after the event to request campus training on 340B’s role in addressing social determinants of health. “College is out for winter break, but they came anyway,” she said.
Speakers included the chief deputy director for administration in the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, the CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, the CEO of CARES of Southwest Michigan, the second-largest HIV service provider in the state, and the leader of Family Health Center, a Kalamazoo-based community health center.
Shaski told me he was grateful that healthcare providers from Sparrow were able to tell their 340B stories. Leslie Bachelor, Director of Health and Wellness, talked about Sparrow’s state-of-the-art mobile clinic that travels to underserved areas in the community, making it easier for low-income and homeless patients to be treated. “We work closely with community leaders to identify areas of need,” Shaski said. “We have parts of Lansing that have no doctor’s offices and lack other services that many of us take for granted.”
Darwin Brewster, executive director for Community Care, explained how Sparrow utilized 340B savings to fund the installation of a homeless clinic in partnership with a local nonprofit. The clinic has a full-time staff and is located within a nearby shelter, integrating housing and healthcare for the homeless. Sparrow also uses its 340B savings to support clinics and affordable treatment at its three rural hospitals.
Participants were given a three-part homework assignment:
Attendees were able to scan a mobile QR code to sign the petition and were encouraged to direct others to CV340B’s get involved page.
Michigan’s successful meeting comes on the heels of CV340B’s first opinion leader forum on September 27 in Fort Worth, Texas, which attracted nearly 40 local leaders. The event included representatives from the Tarrant County Health Department, a county commissioner, and an HIV activist, as well as representatives from a children’s hospital, a Federally Qualified Health Center, a Ryan White Clinic, and a Disproportionate Share Hospital, in addition to community activists from businesses, faith-based organizations and patient groups.
CV340B’s Tighe said that the next forum will take place in Florida this spring, and the organization is excited to expand on its success in 2020. “We are building terrific momentum and look forward to working with community leaders to amplify the 340B message in the coming year.”
If you are interested in getting involved, please email [email protected] for more information.
More States Embrace 340B Program as a Win-Win for Taxpayers, Patients and the General Public
AIR340B Quietly Steps Up Advocacy Efforts – October 2019
Recent 340B Developments of Interest – September 2019
Key Takeaways from the 340B Coalition Summer Conference – August 2019
Clearing Off the Desk – Part 2 – June 2019
A Welcome Addition to the 340B Debate – May 2019
Clearing Off the Desk – April 2019
Be Vigilant on State 340B Activity – March 2019