WASHINGTON, DC — The bipartisan Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act, H.R. 6520, is being formally introduced in the House — to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile and ensure the U.S. is better prepared for future crises and pandemics.
This bipartisan legislation will combat equipment shortages and provide near real-time tracking of medical and health supply inventories nationwide — for supplies that frontline workers desperately need.
The bill is led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-8), and cosponsored by Reps. Troy Balderson (OH-12), Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-7), David B. McKinley, P.E. (WV-01), and Lori Trahan (MA-3).
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.
“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,” Gottheimer said. “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.”
Armed with information from this inventory monitoring infrastructure created by the Medical and Health Stockpile Accountability Act, decision-makers like hospitals, manufacturers, distributors, and federal agencies will be better able to plan and allocate supplies to prevent shortfalls and hoarding, move product from the Strategic National Stockpile and other inventories to points of care, or ramp up production.