Coronavirus Concerns Birth Bipartisan Bills
Lawmakers from both major parties converged in Washington this week to agree on something. Really, it’s true.
And what they found common ground on was the urgent need for the United States to strengthen medical supply chains. Hardly a controversial stance during this year of the coronavirus, but it’s nice to hear some harmony in Congress every now and then.
The occasion was a virtual summit hosted by politics news site The Hill, “America’s Agenda: COVID-19 & A Responsive Rx Supply Chain.” Members of Congress took turns agreeing that, yep, the current system is broken and something needs to be done — and they mostly agreed on the what-needs-to-be done part, too. In a nutshell, it means being less dependent on China for medical goods.
“We still really have a preference for making things in America — [like] our military equipment, our body armor, our meals-ready-to-eat,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said. “We [don’t] have the same Buy America requirements on other things like medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.”
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) shared her frustration. “I think we’ve known for quite a while that we were too dependent on other countries for our pharmaceutical needs, but during this pandemic, we’ve realized it,” he told The Hill. “And having realized it means we have to do something about it.”
Carter and Slotkin are sponsoring separate pieces of legislation to move supply lines closer to home. Slotkin’s Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, for instance, would include a $500 million pilot program to encourage domestic manufacturers to produce critical products such as PPE.
“We need to have pharmaceutical independence,” Carter said. ‘That’s why with this legislation, what I’m trying to do is to attract those companies to come back to America, to try to incentivize them and to repatriate them back to America through the use of opportunity zones.”
The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) co-sponsored the event. “HDA and our members are committed to continuing to work with federal and state governments, deploying our logistics expertise and applying the early lessons learned to response efforts to the distribution of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,” HDA CEO Chester “Chip” Davis blogged this week. “HDA’s recently released vaccine distribution principles reflect these insights and the entire industry’s commitment to supporting the next phase of the global pandemic.”