Statement on Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander’s Introduction of the Preparing for the Next Pandemic Act
By Blair Childs, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) took critical and comprehensive action today to improve our nation’s preparedness to respond to the next pandemic. We are pleased to see recommendations that Premier shared with the Committee reflected in the Preparing for the Next Pandemic Act. This includes the urgent need to diversify our supply chain for medical products by incenting domestic manufacturing and focusing on “time to inventory” by ensuring contracts with domestic suppliers are in place to support flexible or surge manufacturing.
In addition, the last few months have taught us that we must create and fund a series of stockpiles that are transparent and create coordination between federal and state stockpiles via a hub-and-spoke model, as Chairman Alexander’s legislation would do. These stockpiles would be “built by providers for providers” so that states and healthcare providers are assured access to appropriate emergency supplies during public health emergencies. This will also avoid competition among stockpiles for critical supplies. Finally, the bill would further strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) by allowing it to enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with vendors, permitting suppliers to maintain safety stock on behalf of the government, and enabling contracting for domestic manufacturing capacity when needed. We encourage Congress to include these common-sense solutions, many of which have been advanced separately by lawmakers from both parties, in the next COVID-19 relief package.
While additional steps will be needed, this initial set of policy solutions are based on lessons learned and have been pressure tested during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the nation remains in the midst of pandemic response, any further action should be undertaken cautiously pending a full review of the lessons learned upon expiration of the public health emergency. Premier stands ready to work with Congress, federal agencies, and private sector organizations to develop long-term solutions to further strengthen the healthcare supply chain to respond to future global pandemics.