New Legislation Seeks Federal Take Over of Medical Supply Chain

March 23, 2020, 5:01 AM HST · Updated March 23, 5:51 AM
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US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today announced legislation to force President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act of 1950 and federalize the manufacture and distribution of scarce in-demand medical supplies in order to cure the growing inefficiencies of 50 states and thousands of hospitals that he says are competing against each other for medical supplies.

Sen. Schatz said “there has been no meaningful action taken—leaving hospital and health care workers on the front lines without the proper gear, and fighting against each other in a bidding war for supplies.”

“Our health care workers need help now. Our bill will immediately ramp up production of medical supplies including masks, gloves, and ventilators so that our health care workers have the equipment they need to protect and care for themselves and their patients,” said Senator Schatz.

The legislation would require the president to use authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to require emergency production of medical equipment to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Specifically, the bill would force President Trump to identify private sector capacity to help nothing less than 500,000,000 N95 respirators, 200,000 medical ventilators, 20,000,000 face shields; 500,000,000 pairs of gloves; and 20,000,000 surgical gowns in addition to other medical equipment deemed necessary.

The legislation would further require the Administration to direct the distribution of these supplies, to end the unnecessary competition between states and health care institutions for these increasingly scarce resources.

The Defense Production Act of 1950 confers upon the president a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industries in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for national defense.

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