Detroit Regional Chamber > Slotkin: ‘Made in America’ Medical Supply Chain a Must in Post COVID-19 Era

Slotkin: ‘Made in America’ Medical Supply Chain a Must in Post COVID-19 Era

April 13, 2020
Sign up to receive updates from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s COVID-19 Business Resource Center or view the Tele-Town Hall lineup for this week.

With health care systems overwhelmed amid COVID-19 patient surges, many members of Congress have found themselves frustrated by stifled efforts to secure personal protection equipment (PPE) due to a reliance on manufacturers in China.

“I have a fundamental problem with the fact I can’t get my nurses at Sparrow Hospital the masks and the gowns they need because the supply chain is so dominated by China,” said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI 8), noting the Chinese government is becoming more stringent on the pace and distribution of medical supplies coming out of the country.

Rep. Slotkin is working on legislation as part of a “Made In America Medical Supply Chain” initiative to address the issue moving forward. She wants to more broadly apply the same practices critical to protecting national security and defense supply chains.

“Certain supply chains like medical supplies, like food security, those supply chains are different than supply chains that sell us things like electric razors. They need to be looked at with a national security lens and incentivize American manufacturing similarly to what we have with military hardware,” said Rep. Slotkin.

Such legislation would ensure that the U.S. is not so reliant on other countries for key supplies in the medical supply chain during future times of crisis. It would also better position the U.S. manufacturing base to respond to a future pandemic.

“I don’t know that everyone one of my peers understands why it is our supply chain for basic medical supplies is so intertwined in China,” said Rep. Slotkin. “I don’t think they understand that you don’t just flip a switch and suddenly have American companies make things back home. There is a whole incentivization structure that needs to occur to make it financially viable to want to produce things here when you can straight-up produce things cheaper in China.”

As conversations shift to rebuilding the supply chain to prevent such reliance on foreign countries, Michigan’s Congressional delegation is expected to be front and center in that policy conversation given our state’s manufacturing legacy and acumen, said Slotkin, who praised the strong bipartisan push on such efforts.

Slotkin: Broad Agreement to Expand PPP, Fifth Wave of COVID Funding to Focus on Jump Starting Economy

With negotiations slated to resume in Congress on a fourth wave of COVID-related funding, there is already a discussion on where stimulus can best jumpstart the economy once the all-clear is given to start reopening businesses.

“The idea is to figure out in the next month or two what exactly the economy will need to sort of kickstart itself out of this coma,” said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly). “I am sure you’ve heard talk of an infrastructure package. It is a little too early to be talking about it now. We need to stem the bleeding. But I do want to put on folks’ radar that I wouldn’t be surprised if come this summer we are talking about a stimulus package.”

Slotkin noted there appears to be some broad agreement among Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle on expanding the Payroll Protection Program as money begins to reach businesses during the crisis and funs run out.

“We are proposing that we do a fourth emergency appropriation in Washington,” Rep. Slotkin said. “There is agreement that we need more money in the pot for the Small Business Administration … I don’t think there is disagreement that we need at least $250 (billion) more in PPP loans since it is so popular.”

Rep. Slotkin also noted that hospitals have been hemorrhaging cash in the crisis and talks about another $100 billion to support them are part of the ongoing conversation on the federal response to COVID-19.

View the Chamber’s Tele-Town Hall lineup for this week and next, or listen to past speakers.