The Growing Challenges in Healthcare and Education: Exploring the 340B Program and Minnesota's Academic Performance

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Jun 22, 2024

3 min read


The Growing Challenges in Healthcare and Education: Exploring the 340B Program and Minnesota's Academic Performance


In recent years, two major sectors have faced significant challenges and witnessed notable developments. The healthcare industry has seen the expansion of the 340B program, while the education sector, exemplified by Minnesota, has grappled with declining academic performance. This article aims to delve into the details of these developments and identify common points that shed light on the broader issues faced by both sectors.

The 340B Program's Remarkable Growth:

The 340B program, designed to provide discounted drugs to eligible entities, experienced astounding growth in 2022. Discounted purchases under the program reached a record-breaking $53.7 billion, representing a remarkable 22.3% increase from the previous year. Hospitals accounted for a staggering 87% of these purchases, highlighting their significant role in the program's utilization.

Interestingly, despite drug prices growing at a slower rate than overall inflation, every 340B covered entity type experienced double-digit growth. This suggests that factors beyond drug prices, such as the expansion of eligible entities and increased demand for discounted drugs, contribute to the program's exponential growth.

The Impact of Manufacturers' Contract Pharmacy Restrictions:

A surprising revelation came from HRSA's estimate that manufacturers' contract pharmacy restrictions only reduced 340B purchases by $470 million, less than 1% of the total purchases in 2022. This figure contradicts the claims made by 340B lobbyists, who argued that contract pharmacy restrictions significantly limited program utilization. These findings prompt a reevaluation of the impact of such restrictions and their role in shaping the 340B program.

Examining Academic Performance in Minnesota:

Shifting our focus to the education sector, Minnesota's academic performance has faced considerable challenges. Recent academic test data indicates that only about half of public school students in the state meet or exceed grade-level standards in reading and math. This represents a decline of approximately 10 points compared to pre-pandemic results.

To make matters worse, the 2021-2022 school year witnessed a significant rise in chronic absenteeism, with over 30% of Minnesota students being chronically absent. This figure is double the pre-pandemic rate and has likely contributed to the decline in academic performance. Addressing the issue of absenteeism is crucial to improving educational outcomes in Minnesota and beyond.

Finding Common Ground:

Although healthcare and education may seem like disparate sectors, there are notable commonalities between the challenges they face. Both the 340B program's growth and Minnesota's academic decline underscore the need for systemic improvements and a comprehensive approach to addressing complex issues.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Enhance Transparency and Oversight: The 340B program's expansion necessitates robust regulatory infrastructure, well-developed administrative controls, and clear legislation to guide its implementation. Strengthening transparency and oversight mechanisms will ensure the program's integrity and prevent potential misuse.
  • 2. Prioritize Attendance and Student Engagement: To improve academic performance, addressing chronic absenteeism is paramount. Schools and policymakers should prioritize initiatives that promote student attendance, engagement, and overall well-being. Implementing targeted interventions and providing support to students facing attendance challenges can yield positive outcomes.
  • 3. Foster Collaboration and Data-Driven Decision-Making: Both the healthcare and education sectors can benefit from increased collaboration and data-driven decision-making. Sharing best practices, lessons learned, and innovative strategies can help stakeholders devise effective solutions. Leveraging data to identify trends, intervene early, and tailor interventions to specific needs can drive positive change.


The rapid growth of the 340B program and Minnesota's academic challenges highlight the need for proactive measures in both healthcare and education. By focusing on transparency, attendance, engagement, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making, stakeholders can work towards addressing the underlying issues and improving outcomes. Embracing these actionable pieces of advice can pave the way for a more efficient and effective healthcare system and a brighter future for students in Minnesota and beyond.

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