Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), co-founder of the Pandemic Preparedness Caucus, joined colleagues to introduce the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act. The bipartisan legislation will strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile and ensure the U.S. is better prepared for future crises and pandemics by combating equipment shortages and providing near real-time tracking of medical and health supply inventories nationwide -- for supplies that frontline workers desperately need.
The bill is led by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Richard Hudson (NC-8) and cosponsored by Representatives Lori Trahan (MA-3), Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-7), Troy Balderson (OH-12) and David B. McKinley, P.E. (WV-01).
The bipartisan bill will create a critical new national system to help prevent shortages like those experienced throughout the pandemic, from COVID-19 rapid tests now, to the mask and ventilator shortages from the beginning of the pandemic.
The bipartisan Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act will strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and create resiliency in our supply chain by:
Establishing a New National Automated Supply Chain Tracking System: Establishing an automated supply-chain tracking application within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provides near real-time insight into the amount of critical medical and health supplies available in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and in the medical and health inventories of local and private entities like hospitals, manufacturers, and distributors, and time estimates for when inventories may be replenished.
Creating Clear Guidelines for Data Use & Sharing: Establishing clear guidelines and practices for data access and use of the new supply-chain tracking application, including consulting with public and private partners to develop national data collecting and reporting standards, creating visibility into inventory by standardizing data, and ensuring clear and efficient mechanisms for health care entities to report data in an emergency.
Eliminating Inventory Reporting Errors: Eliminating manual reporting burden and errors by automating data feeds from health care entities to the new supply-chain tracking application.
Testing the System Annually to Stay Prepared: Conducting an annual exercise to test the effectiveness of the application and to report any deficiencies.
Helping State and Local Health Care Providers: Establishing an HHS program to assist state, local, and private health care entities, such as community hospitals, that do not have an automated vendor management system in developing such a system.
Safeguarding Private Data: Instituting robust safeguards to protect confidential and proprietary information and to ensure that federal data collection is used for monitoring and dynamic allocation, not for reallocating inventory from hospitals or other organizations, advantaging any institution over another, or undermining the competitive marketplace.
The full bill text of the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act can be found HERE.
"In our work to combat the coronavirus, one significant barrier has been the lack of downstream visibility into our inventory of critical medical supplies and drugs," said Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-3), co-founder of the Pandemic Preparedness Caucus. "As a result, hospitals were forced to operate in crisis mode in the early days of the pandemic, leveraging household products such as garbage bags to protect our frontline workers. I'm proud to join with Congressman Gottheimer to introduce the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act, which establishes an automated supply-chain tracking program that provides near real-time insight into our inventory of critical supplies so we never experience a crisis like that again. As we wring out lessons learned from COVID-19, this legislation is an important step to ensure we're never caught flat-footed again by a public health emergency."
"It was completely shocking to discover at the beginning of the pandemic -- when New Jersey was hit so hard and our hospitals were in desperate need of masks and ventilators -- that we had no way of knowing the quantity, location, or production of these supplies. Like others, I sat on the phone all night long with distributors in Europe and Asia trying to get shipments of masks and ventilators. I begged my colleagues in other states to see if their hospitals had anything they could spare -- an extra ventilator or a few thousand masks and gowns," said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). "Three years later, that problem still exists. We just don't have a handle on the exact quantities of critical medical supplies and drugs that are on U.S. soil at any given time. And this lack of visibility is hurting us again, right now, as we work to ramp up testing and higher-grade mask use, like N-95s, to help curb the spread of the omicron variant. This critical legislation will ensure that in future crises, we are much better prepared."
"This pandemic has shown the importance of ensuring our health care providers have the PPE, medical supplies, and equipment they need. Unfortunately, antiquated equipment tracking systems have led to supply shortages in hospitals across North Carolina and our country. The Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act will strengthen our Strategic National Stockpile by working with hospitals, manufacturers, and distributors to better plan and allocate supplies during public health emergencies," said Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8). "As the House Republican leader on pandemic preparedness issues, I know this overdue bipartisan legislation will cut costs, avoid fraud, and make sure patients and providers have the resources they need."
"We've learned many valuable lessons during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the limitations of our national stockpile tracking system," said Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E. (WV-01). "The Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act will modernize the tracking system, providing an on-demand, accurate accounting of essential medical supplies as well as common products needed to address a future crisis. This will equip our medical professionals to respond quickly to emergencies, without concerns related to access or availability of critical medical supplies needed to do their job."
"This legislation takes into account lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. It's about ensuring our frontline workers have the critical supplies they need -- when and where they are needed most. Modernizing our antiquated communication infrastructure allows us to take stock and deploy resources in real-time," said Congressman Troy Balderson (OH-12). "Our capabilities on this front will be crucial to preventing and overcoming future public health emergencies. As a co-chair of the Pandemic Preparedness Caucus, I am proud to support this much-needed legislation."
"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of understanding our health supply chains. I am pleased to support the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act, which establishes a near real-time data system for critical medical and health supply inventories. This data system will ensure that we can identify shortages and vulnerabilities in our health system well before they could impact patient care delivery," said Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-7).