i9 Fact Checker: Ad misleads viewers on Hinson’s role during baby formula shortage

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new ad uses Rep. Ashley Hinson’s (R-IA01) role as a mother to argue, she is fighting for Iowa families. Rep. Hinson is running in Iowa’s Second Congressional District against State Senator Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids).

Source: Ashley Hinson for Congress

Ashley Hinson for Congress is the name for Rep. Ashley Hinson’s campaign, according to documents from the Federal Election Commission. The campaign is spending $2 Million on ads until Election Day.

Claim #1: “When the baby formula shortage hit, Rep. Ashley Hinson worked to increase the supply”

Analysis: The United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) internal report on the baby formula shortage notes the shortage began after a pause in production and recall of infant formula products from a Michigan factory in February 2022. The report said the pause in production and recall created problems with the product’s supply chain already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Hinson’s campaign said this specific claim refers to a letter the congresswoman signed criticizing the Biden Administration and asking the FDA’s commissioner questions related to the shortage. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who is in House Republican Leadership, (R-NY21) also signed the letter. In February Rep. Stefanik sent a different letter, which Rep. Hinson didn’t sign, criticizing how long it took the FDA to react to health concerns from a state agency.

The campaign also said it is referring to two different pieces of legislation, which the congresswoman supported.

The first bill is the Access to Baby Formula Act. The bill, according to the congressional research service, allowed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive or modify administrative requirements during emergencies and supply chain disruptions for those on the special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The bill also required the USDA to create solutions, if an infant formula recall occurred.

The Access to Baby Formula Act passed the House 414-9 – about as bipartisan as it gets – and became law in May 2022.

The second bill is the Babies Need More Formula Now Act of 2022, which Rep. Hinson was an original cosponsor. According to the congressional research service, this bill would change requirements related to the importation, labeling of the country of origin and regulatory and recall protocols regarding infant formula. No Democrats, according to congress’ website, cosponsored the bill and it was never voted on in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Hinson voted against the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act. This bill would have given the FDA $28 Million in funding to address the infant formula shortage and stop future shortages. This bill passed the House on a party-line vote but never came to a vote in the Senate.

Her campaign said the congresswoman voted against the bill because she says it didn’t require the funding was spent appropriately or immediately.

The internal report from the FDA on its response to the shortage notes there wasn’t one single reason the shortage occurred. However, it noted the FDA needs more authority and resources, which required more funding.

Other media outlets, including TV9s sister station in Cincinnati, also report parents are still struggling to find baby formula.

Conclusion: Congresswoman Hinson did take action meant to increase the baby formula supply. The effectiveness of that work – a letter with no power and a bill that was never voted on – is questionable and the bill she voted to support was limited to only those receiving WIC and in a way that did not increase supply. On top of that, she opposed funding to address the shortage. That’s why this claim gets a ‘C’.

Claim #2: “Ashely fought to increase rural healthcare for expecting mothers”

Analysis: This refers to three pieces of legislation. None became law or received votes in the House of Representatives.

The BABIES Act would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish a demonstration program to improve free-standing birth center services, according to the congressional research service.  The program would ensure the states selected for the program would represent a diverse selection of geographic areas including rural and underserved areas. Rep. Hinson was an original cosponsor of the bill.

The Midwives for Moms Act of 2021 created grants to expand midwifery programs at higher education and nursing schools, according to the congressional research service. The Health Resources and Services Administration, which is a division within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), would control the funding and is instructed to prioritize schools focused on increasing the number of midwife professionals from underrepresented groups and areas with limited access to professional health care. Rep. Hinson was an original cosponsor of the bill.

The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2022 would allow people to use grant funds for research and activities to prevent stillbirths, according to the congressional research service. Rep. Hinson was an original cosponsor of the bill.

Conclusion: While Hinson proposed legislation aimed at rural healthcare for expecting mothers, all of it was symbolic more than effective since none of it ever came to a vote. This is largely a result of her role in the minority party in Congress. Since her efforts did not actually result in an increase in rural healthcare, as the wording suggests, this claim gets a B.

Claim #3: “that’s why she’s on a mission to expand affordable, quality childcare

Analysis: This refers to two pieces of legislation, which the congresswoman sponsored in congress. None of these bills came to a vote, either.

The ACCESS Act would allow the Department of Commerce to give grants to public works and economic development projects increasing the accessibility of child care, according to the congressional research service. The department would select projects based on the project’s ability to address childcare needs in areas with a childcare shortage along with how it affects a family’s financial security.

The Child CARE Act of 2021 would require the Administration for Children and Families, a division within HHS, to create a report losing the regulations in each state related to childcare along with the cost and how regulations affect the cost and service quality.

Conclusion: Again, the effectiveness of Rep. Hinson’s actions is limited to non-existent. However, the wording here matters as it makes no claims of success, which is why it gets an A.