Expediting Critical Healthcare Supplies Through U.S. Transportation System

A process to prioritize the movement of pandemic and essential medical supplies through the U.S. transportation system is needed to avoid significant delays in delivering to healthcare providers

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Unprecedented transportation delays have severely limited reliable and timely movement of medical products. This restricts the supply chain’s ability to support healthcare providers responding to COVID-19 and providing essential medical services. Transportation disruptions have become a healthcare issue.

The medical products supply chain relies on predictable transport to communicate product availability and delivery to providers. This allows them to provide appropriate clinical patient care. Continued delays will have negative consequences for patient care and public health.

Demand for PPE, ancillary vaccine products and essential medical supplies continues to increase due to rising COVID-19 cases, flu season preparation and administering COVID-19 booster shots. This demand will further strain the transportation system.

HIDA’s Position

HIDA supports a Critical Cargo Program that prioritizes medical supplies during the COVID-19 response and future public health emergencies. Public and private stakeholders should be convened to identify a fast pass prioritization process to efficiently move product. The entire U.S. transportation system from ports to rail to trucks to small parcel carriers should be included.

HIDA’s Recommendations

  1. Develop a “fast pass” system to expedite global transportation of essential medical products
    • Use this system to prioritize critical supplies for container access and sea freight space
    • Use HTS codes to identify containers of critical supplies
    • Use existing “peel off” capability for priority handling at ports
  2. Utilize “fast pass” with railroads, trucks and small parcel carriers
    • Ensure first available railcar and chassis
    • Ensure necessary equipment and labor are available
  3. Align transportation operations to support healthcare during public health emergencies
    • 24/7 operations during a public health emergency is needed for transport of medical products
    • Develop intermodal communication plan on when and how medical products can be accessed