U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) unveiled on April 9, 2020, the Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, a three-bill package of legislation she will introduce to leverage the might of U.S. manufacturing and marry it with Department of Defense’s logistics capabilities to ensure that the federal government never again struggles to support front-line health care providers in future public health emergencies.
Informed by her past experience working on the Department of Defense’s response to the lethal Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, and her recent focus fighting alongside Michigan elected leaders on both sides of the aisle, medical professionals, health care executives and Michigan manufacturers to bring desperately needed personal protective equipment to Michigan healthcare workers, Slotkin’s three-bill package makes critical reforms to the American medical supply chain to maintain the safety and security of the American people.
“Many of us in Congress spent the first weeks of the COVID-19 crisis in agonizing pursuit of masks, gloves, test kits and other urgently needed supplies, only to find that our hospitals and health care workers are at the mercy of overseas manufacturers and global supply chains,” Slotkin said. “It is unacceptable for American lives to depend on offshore manufacturers in a crisis. Our country can never again ask our medical professionals and first responders to go into a fight like this unarmed, or dependent on foreign sources for their protection. America’s manufacturers and our first-class workforce are ready and able to take on this challenge, but we have to put in place the policies that will let them go to work. The Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative is designed to do just that – and to make sure that American workers are producing these lifesaving supplies.”
The Initiative is made up of three bills designed to boost America’s capacity to manufacture critical medical supplies and equipment; reform the Strategic National Stockpile to ensure that the critical shortages of supplies and equipment that have plagued COVID-19 response never happen again; and guide emergency production of critical items in future public health crisis such as the ad-hoc manufacturing of masks and hand sanitizer in the current crisis, by building an easily accessible “emergency medical manufacturing library” that would house these critical plans.
The Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative includes:
- The Buy American Medical Supplies Act, designed to improve domestic manufacturing capacity for vital medical items in two ways. First, it would tighten “Buy American” provisions for the Strategic National Stockpile as it is replenished after this crisis and in the future. Second, it would authorize the federal government to pay industry to maintain surge manufacturing capacity that can be activated to surge the production of vital supplies and equipment in a crisis.
- The Strategic National Stockpile Reform Act, which:
- Shifts the management of the Strategic National Stockpile to the Defense Logistics Agency, which has proven ability to maintain supply stockpiles. This change will place acquisition for the Strategic National Stockpile under the strict “Buy American” provisions of the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement that are designed to ensure the nation is not dependent on foreign sources of items that are critical to our nation’s security.
- Requires a study to reevaluate the types and quantities of critical items that should be housed in the Strategic National Stockpile based on experience with the current crisis and projections of future needs, and restock the Strategic National Stockpile based on that study.
- Authorizes sale of perishable items from the Strategic National Stockpile as they near expiration, at commercial rates, to ensure stockpile materials are fresh, to help reduce overall costs of maintaining the stockpile, and to ensure steady work for American manufacturers and workers as supplies are refreshed.
- The Emergency Medical Manufacturing Library Act, which would help prepare a last line of defense for emergency supplies by creating a repository of FDA-approved plans and specs for improvised manufacturing of critical items during a crisis that could then be built by non-traditional makers in times of crisis. A publicly available library of simple-to-build designs, already pre-approved through regulatory hurdles, can speed enlistment of these non-traditional manufacturers to support traditional suppliers in a time of national crisis.
In March, Slotkin cosponsored the bipartisan Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act to require the President to use the Defense Production Act to speed vital supplies to hospitals and first responders. In that instance as well as the Made in America Medical Supply Chain Act, she believes Congress needs to step forward and direct executive branch action.
“I would ordinarily not support Congressional management of the executive branch’s emergency management responsibilities, but if we do not take action, we risk a repeat of this crisis,” Slotkin said. “Leaving the states to fend for themselves as they have over the last two months is simply unacceptable. America’s manufacturers and workforce are ready to rise to this challenge.”