Katko proposes bipartisan bill to ramp up U.S. medical supply chain

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) on Wednesday said he introduced the bipartisan Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act to require companies to make 500 million N95 respirator masks, 200,000 ventilators, 20 million face shields, 500 million pairs of surgical gloves and 20 million surgical gowns to help healthcare responders on the frontlines and patients tackling COVID-19.

“Our number one priority has to be addressing the shortages in medical supplies that hospitals and medical facilities in central New York and across our state currently face,” Rep. Katko said. “Without sufficient testing kits, personal protective equipment and ventilators, we handcuff the response effort and leave frontline providers vulnerable to infection.”

Rep. Katko’s proposed bill follows calls earlier this week from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for 30,000 additional ventilators for New York State, as well as an announcement that the Trump administration would implement the Defense Production Act of 1950 to increase access to coronavirus test kits. The president last week invoked the act, but hasn’t yet activated it.

If enacted, Rep. Katko’s bill would expand upon these efforts to increase access to medical supplies and any other medical material deemed necessary to protect frontline healthcare providers, according to the congressman’s summary of the bill.

The supplies would be distributed to states based on the number of COVID-19 cases and individuals at high-risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 in each state, the summary says.

“While the administration took an important first step by acting on my request and formally implementing the Defense Production Act to increase access to testing kits, far more must be done to provide our hospitals with the resources they need,” said Rep. Katko. “In the coming days and weeks, I will continue my work with frontline providers, as well as local and state officials to address shortages and communicate central New York’s needs to the administration.”

Rep. Katko said he introduced the measure alongside U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and more than 30 additional cosponsors.