WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced legislation (H.R. 6952) that would require the President to appoint a Medical Supplies Response Coordinator in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This individual would serve as a central point of authority and contact for the health care system, supply chain officials, and states on medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices, drugs, and vaccines. The appointee would be required to have health care training and an understanding of medical supply chain logistics.
The coordinator would also be required to provide weekly reports to Congress on gaps in supply capacity and progress made towards closing those gaps, monitor the prices of critical supplies, and consult with FEMA and HHS on authorization of the Defense Production Act.
“Politicizing the response effort and refusing to acknowledge the need for adequate medical supplies has put our frontline workers and the people they serve in danger. This is unacceptable, and our essential workers deserve better,” said Rep. Clark. “Our government’s solution to this challenge must be coordinated, robust, and led by the experts. Appointing a Medical Supplies Response Coordinator with a professional background in health care and medical supply chain logistics is the science-based approach we must take in order to overcome this crisis.”
“The Administration’s response to the numerous breakdowns of our medical device supply chain has been convoluted, slow, and inexcusably political, with tragic consequences,” said Schneider. “Already months into this crisis, far too many health care professionals and other essential employees across the nation are still without the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe. The needless ‘everyone for themselves’ environment is creating bidding wars between providers, states, and federal agencies, driving up prices, and wasting critical time. We need a coordinated national response, and a Medical Supplies Response Coordinator will help achieve it.”
Similar language was included in the HEROES Act (Sec. 30511) passed by the House on May 15, 2020.
In April, Clark and Schneider led two dozen colleagues in a letter to House and Senate leadership urging they make the czar position a priority in any upcoming coronavirus relief packages.Text of the legislation is available online.