Harrisburg – Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) and the Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Senator Michele Brooks (R-50), have sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Health Secretary Denise Johnson seeking answers and solutions to baby formula shortages throughout the commonwealth.
The senators noted that the critical predicament is affecting Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable population, newborns and infants. Within the past few weeks, the issue has only escalated, and the reports throughout Pennsylvania of scarce formula stock and empty shelves at grocery stores and pharmacies are numerous and unacceptable. Mastriano and Brooks expressed particular concerns for the families who are unable to find formula for their infants, especially for babies with rare metabolic diseases, such as Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD), Phenylketonuria (PKU) and Homocystinuria, who require special formula to survive.
The letter seeks answers from the administration to the following inquiries:
- What is your plan to address the baby formula shortage within our commonwealth and the concerns of parents and families?
- What is the status of baby formula availability in our hospital nurseries?
- Is the commonwealth actively working with the federal government to address this crisis? If so, in what ways?
- Is there any credence to reports that baby formula is being shipped to the border for illegal immigrants while many Pennsylvania store shelves are empty?
- Do we have a government emergency stockpile in Pennsylvania? If so, what is your plan for use and distribution?
Additionally, the senators proposed that the commonwealth consider the following options to help bring some immediate relief to parents:
- Urge the Attorney General to monitor formula pricing and hold retailers and anyone having access and/or attempting to resell baby formula accountable for price gouging. Such individuals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
- Communicate with parents and families about efforts being taken to resolve this crisis, and instructions on how to obtain formula, with regular updates on the progress.
- Explore public-private partnership (s) with food banks, charitable organizations and other nonprofits who may have access to baby formula.
“While this issue is nationwide, Pennsylvania’s leaders cannot sit idly by and wait for the federal government to act,” said Mastriano and Brooks. “We have an obligation to be proactive for Pennsylvanians in addressing this matter and to have alternate plans in place before we face a statewide crisis.”