The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) approved an additional $450 million in funding to rural health care providers, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Illinois, Maryland, and Ohio.
- Illinois: Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert Ford on Saturday detailed the "serious steps" the company is taking to combat the infant formula shortage. In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Ford acknowledged that the shortage was "exacerbated" by Abbott's voluntary recall of its products. "We believe our voluntary recall was the right thing to do. We will not take risks when it comes to the health of children," Ford said. According to Ford, the company is taking several steps to address the shortage, including "rigorous inspections" of its products as well as accelerated production processes. In particular, he addressed the impact of the EleCare shortage, an infant formula for babies with digestive problems. "We will prioritize EleCare when manufacturing resumes and get that out the door first," Ford wrote. In addition, Ford said the company has "been taking serious steps to relieve the supply crisis" at its own facilities. "We converted lines of our adult nutrition products at our Columbus, Ohio, plant to prioritize production of ready-to-feed liquid infant formula. And we have been air-shipping millions of cans of our most widely used powdered infant formula from an FDA-approved facility in Ireland to the United States since the recall," he said. On Sunday, a military plane with enough specialty infant formula for over 500,000 baby bottles arrived in Indianapolis—the first of several flights to arrive from Europe to help relieve the formula shortage. (Folmar, The Hill, 5/21; AP/USA Today, 5/23)
- Maryland: HRSA approved an additional $450 million in funding to rural health care providers through the American Rescue Plan Act. The payments will be allocated to rural providers who have struggled with rising costs, workforce challenges, and decreased revenues amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, the payments will be released to health care providers and suppliers who served rural Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare beneficiates between Jan. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020. "All of the American Rescue Plan funding has been absolutely critical for the healthcare infrastructure over the last couple of years because it took a while for folks to grasp the idea that [the pandemic] was going to come through the country and reach remote areas," said Jim Porter, managing director of ToneyKorf Partners. "Hospitals, especially distressed hospitals, run incredibly tight to negative margins anyway. A lot of these places need supplemental support, which they're likely to get through grant programs or other state or federal assistance." (Schiavo, HealthLeaders Media, 5/20)
- Ohio: The J.M. Smucker Company on Friday issued a nationwide recall for several Jif peanut butter products over potential salmonella contamination that federal regulators said were linked to 14 illnesses. On Friday, the company released a statement on FDA's website encouraging consumers who purchased potentially contaminated items to dispose of them. According to the statement, the company is "coordinating a thorough investigation" with FDA. The agency said it found epidemiologic evidence that indicated that Jif peanut butter produced at the company's Lexington, Kentucky, plant was "the likely cause of illnesses in this outbreak." The recall applies to all Jif brand peanut butter products with lot code numbers 1274425 through 2140425, with the digits ending with 425. Lot numbers can be found alongside the products' best-if-used-by dates. (Albeck-Ripka, New York Times, 5/22)