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Heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition

Rep. Slotkin Plan Treats Medical Supplies As National Security Imperative

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Image credit: Jake Neher / WDET

The plan would create a library of medical equipment blueprints, place control of the national stockpile under Defense Department authority and require U.S. production of critical supplies.

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Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) is proposing a series of bills that she says would strengthen the U.S. capacity for critical medical supplies.

We need to start thinking about the medical supply chain and the prescription drug supply chain as a homeland security asset.” — Rep. Elissa Slotkin, (D-Holly)

Slotkin’s plan, a series of three bills called “Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative,” would create a library of medical equipment blueprints for companies to access and place the national stockpile of medical supplies under Department of Defense control. Slotkin says it would also require medical supplies to be sourced domestically, similar to how the military procures equipment.

We need to start thinking about the medical supply chain and the prescription drug supply chain as a homeland security asset,” Slotkin said. “In order to protect ourselves, we need to have real availability and predictability on the supply chain of medical supplies.”

Buy America’

Shortages of medical supplies like ventilators and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers have slowed the response to COVID-19.

We never wanted to be dependent on China or Germany or somewhere else to produce our military hardware.”

A Ford employee constructs a face mask for healthcare workers after the company retooled plants to build personal protective equipment.Ford Motor Co.
Ford Motor Co.

A Ford employee constructs a face mask for healthcare workers after the company retooled plants to build personal protective equipment.

Slotkin, who previously worked for the Department of Defense under the Obama administration, said military procurement is one parallel she sees for ensuring an adequate supply or medical equipment.

We never wanted to be dependent on China or Germany or somewhere else to produce our military hardware, so we have very strong ‘Buy America’ provisions on that,” Slotkin said. “That’s why so much of it is still made here in the United States.”

The proposal would also create a library of blueprints for medical supplies to help companies and other organizations build crucial medical supplies

This is “so small manufacturers around the country; universities with access to 3D printers, don’t have to go hunting and searching for the type of face mask or the type of gowns that hospitals need so desperately right now.”

Slotkin says she hopes the bills can be included in the next round of emergency COVID-19 legislation. 

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Alex McLenon, Associate Producer

Alex McLenon is an Associate Producer with 101.9 WDET. McLenon has many interests; from cars and sports to arts and science. During college he amassed four years of experience as a Zamboni driver and acknowledges spending far too much money on his CD collection.

Follow @alexmclenon

This post is a part of Coronavirus in Michigan.

101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station, is committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information on coronavirus, and it's related illness COVID-19, in Michigan. 

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