Bennet, Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Medical Supply Manufacturing and Rebuild the Strategic National Stockpile

Senators Plan to File Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act As An Amendment to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act. This bipartisan legislation would improve the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and strengthen the domestic manufacturing of critical medical supplies, like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing supplies, to ensure the United States is better prepared for future public health emergencies. Bennet and Tillis plan on filing this legislation as an amendment to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the legislation now advancing in the Senate to invest over $100 billion in emerging technologies to bolster America’s economic competitiveness and national security. 

“Over the past year, we have witnessed how ill-prepared our country was for a large-scale public health crisis like COVID-19,” said Bennet. “While we were relying on China to manufacture critical supplies like PPE, our health care workers on the front lines were forced to risk their own health because we were unable to provide them with proper protective gear. By increasing domestic manufacturing of supplies like PPE, this bipartisan legislation will better prepare us for the next public health emergency." 

“When the COVID-19 outbreak began last year, the Chinese government’s effort to cover up the severity while stockpiling critical medical supplies hindered the United States’ ability to respond to the pandemic and made clear that our country is far too reliant on foreign nations to deal with future pandemics,” said Tillis. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Bennet in order to make much-needed reforms to strengthen our ability to respond to future disasters and provide frontline workers the resources they need during public health emergencies.”

“During the pandemic we shifted our business to help produce the necessary PPE to respond to the crisis. My passion is creating jobs and helping my employees and their families succeed. This legislation would help stabilize the industry and help our communities by creating partnerships to respond to future crises,” said Esther Jeffs, Owner of Sew Inspired, Nucla, CO.

“This bipartisan bill would create trusted partnerships between the Federal government and medical products distributors to enhance our nation’s strategic reserve of pandemic supplies,” said Matthew J. Rowan, President & CEO of the Health Industry Distributors Association. “Senators Bennet and Tillis have taken a bold step toward making our country more resilient by bringing together the best capabilities of government and industry.”

When the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic hit the United States last year, health care workers were provided with few supplies and equipment from the SNS, much of which was expired and outdated. The lack of critical medical supplies across the existing domestic supply chain forced the United States to rely on China and other nations to manufacture this equipment, sometimes receiving counterfeit and unsafe products, making it more difficult for the United States to rapidly respond. The Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act would incent manufacturers of critical supplies to strengthen their supply chains and establish domestic reserves of critical medical supplies for future public health emergencies. 

Specifically, the Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act would authorize $500 million annually through fiscal year 2024 to implement a supply chain flexibility manufacturing program to:

  • Create incentives for the domestic manufacturer of medical supplies to enhance supply chain elasticity, increasing emergency stock and geographically diversifying production;
  • Establish and maintain domestic reserves of critical medical supplies like PPE, testing and vaccine supplies,  and diagnostic tests; 
  • Enter into joint industrial-based ventures to produce critical medical supplies; and
  • Work with distributors of medical supplies to manage domestic reserves held by the SNS by refreshing and replenishing supply stocks. 

The bill text is available HERE.