Shaheen & Hassan Announce Legislation to Federalize Medical Supply Chain, Increase National Production and Delivery of Necessary Supplies Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced legislation with U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Democrats on Wednesday that lays out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by federalizing and adding critical oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment. The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process. The AFL-CIO, SEIU, the National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers support this legislation.
“New Hampshire hospitals and health care providers are on the frontlines of this public health emergency and are facing shortages of the personal protective equipment and medical supplies they urgently need. The Trump administration’s persistent delays and failure to provide necessary supplies to states are unacceptable. More than one million Americans are sick with this disease and more than fifty thousand have died, with numbers climbing. We can’t afford to lose more time responding to this crisis. Congress needs to act,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation will activate the full authority of the Defense Production Act and boost the production of medical supplies and equipment our health care professionals need to stay safe and save lives, while also creating a fair and transparent process for the delivery of these supplies. There is no time to waste and I urge Congress to include this bill in upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation.
“In the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, it is unacceptable that the President has refused to take the necessary steps to fully ramp up our manufacturing capabilities and develop a transparent and efficient supply chain to get critical medical supplies where they are needed,” Senator Hassan said. “These supplies are necessary to save lives right now, and to make it possible to reopen more of our economy. This legislation would require the President to utilize his full authority under the Defense Production Act to scale up production of testing materials, as well as personal protective equipment and medical supplies, in order to get our frontline workers and states the resources that they desperately need.”
The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act would:
- Require publicly reported national assessments on a weekly basis to determine national critical equipment supply and requirements.
- These reports would also include direct outreach with essential employees and healthcare workers.
- Establish an Executive Officer to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery.
- Require a comprehensive plan for COVID–19 testing, including viral and antibody testing.
- Establish a comprehensive plan to address necessary supply chain issues in order to rapidly scale up production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Require a GAO report to identify lessons learned and make recommendations on future pandemic response.
- Establish an Inspector General to oversee implementation of the Act.
- These reports will also identify industry sectors and manufacturers most ready to fill orders, stockpiles that can be refurbished or repaired, manufacturers that could expand production into PPE and medical supplies, and supplies and equipment that can be redistributed to new hotspots.
- The Executive Officer will have all the authorities available under the DPA.
- The Executive Officer is required to issue major purchase orders under DPA for supplies identified in the assessments, oversee all distribution of critical medical supplies, and make recommendations to the President on increasing national production capacity of supplies.
- The Executive Officer will be a civilian position appointed by the Secretary of the Defense and will be authorized additional uniformed and DOD civilian personnel in supporting roles.
- The Executive Officer will ensure that all unused supplies in excess of need will be turned over to the Strategic National Stockpile.
- The Executive Officer will terminate after confirming to Congress that all State and territorial medical supply needs have been met and national stockpiles have been replenished.
- Increase transparency regarding the distribution of supplies and equipment.
- The Executive Officer is required to publicly post all states’ requests for assistance, metrics and criteria for amount and destination of distribution, metrics for determining hotspots and areas of future concern, and production and procurement benchmarks.
Shaheen and Hassan have led efforts to secure urgently needed personal protective equipment for New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen previously introduced the Homeland Procurement Reform Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to increase the amount of PPE it procures from American companies. That legislation was designed to ensure that the domestic supply chain for PPE is capable of supplying the critical items that FEMA and other federal agencies need during a national emergency. Last week, Shaheen and Hassan called on the administration to fully utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ensure the VA has the supplies and equipment needed to protect veterans from COVID-19. With the state’s congressional delegation, the Senators have sent multiple letters to the Trump administration requesting rapid assistance to ensure New Hampshire health care providers have the supplies needed to address coronavirus cases the state is experiencing. In addition, Shaheen and Hassan sent a letter pressing the administration for information on the distribution of critical medical supplies, including personal protective equipment. The Senators repeatedly called for the President to invoke the Defense Production Act and introduced legislation to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, under the DPA. As a result of these calls and those from others, the President relented.
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