Linda Rouse O'Neill

By Linda Rouse O'Neill
January 2023

Where did HIDA’s policy advocacy on pandemic preparedness begin?

In April 2020, Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) introduced the Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act. This bipartisan legislation would create incentives to geographically diversify production of medical supplies and maintain domestic reserves of critical medical supplies like personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests. Over the next two years, the Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act was passed by the House on five separate occasions. Despite having bipartisan companion legislation – led by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) – it was never considered by the Senate.

However, HIDA and its members stayed engaged with Senate staff regarding the legislation and we were able to get these provisions included in broader preparedness legislation. Specifically, HIDA worked with the Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee and successfully included the Medical Supplies for Pandemics Act into the text of the PREVENT Pandemics Act. This text was approved by a HELP Committee markup of the legislation in March 2022.

How did HIDA advocate for the PREVENT Pandemics Act?

In June 2022, leaders from across the healthcare distribution industry convened in Washington for HIDA’s first in-person Washington Summit in three years. In more than 115 meetings on Capitol Hill, healthcare distributors urged passage of the PREVENT Pandemics Act.

In August 2022, HIDA led a letter that was signed by more than two dozen healthcare organizations. Subsequently, HIDA’s annual Streamlining Healthcare Expo & Business Exchange held in Chicago in September featured an online letter-writing campaign to Congress supporting passage of the PREVENT Pandemics Act.

How did HIDA advocate for lab services?

HIDA’s members in the laboratory services space were facing reimbursement cuts of up to 15% for many common laboratory diagnostic services, cuts which threatened to reduce patient access to diagnostics. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA), which would restructure the data collection process and limit cuts to a reasonable and sustainable range.

HIDA educated Members of Congress on the benefits of laboratory services. Millions of Americans benefit from over 7 billion lab tests annually, and 70% of medical decisions are informed by the results.

In December, HIDA wrote to Congressional leadership and urged the inclusion of PREVENT Pandemics and SALSA in the year-end omnibus spending bill.

How were these priorities passed into law?

In late December 2022, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government funded for another year. Foremost among HIDA’s priorities in the omnibus bill was the inclusion of the PREVENT Pandemics Act. The omnibus also included a revised phase-in of Medicare clinical laboratory test payment changes, which would postpone by one year cuts of up to 15% that are scheduled to go into effect for many common laboratory diagnostic services.

What does this mean for the medical supply chain?

The bipartisan provisions of the PREVENT Pandemics Act in the omnibus appropriations act will improve preparedness strategy and coordination while strengthening public-private partnerships. Specifically, the PREVENT Pandemics Act contains improvements to the healthcare supply chain, providing the Strategic National Stockpile with additional flexibility to partner with distributors and manufacturers.

Read More

How HIDA's Priorities Became Law

Thought Leaders: Industry Recommendations For A Strong Public-Private Pandemic Infrastructure

Pandemic Preparedness Summit: Industry Observations & Policy Solutions

Building A More Robust Supply Chain: A Public-Private Framework To Create A Pandemic Response Infrastructure