Bipartisan FAST PASS Bill Introduced To Expedite Medical Supply Chain
November 1, 2023 – Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) strongly endorses bipartisan legislation introduced today by Representatives Mike Ezell (R-MS) and John Garamendi (D-CA) that will ensure critical medical supplies are expedited during emergencies.
The Facilitate Access to Swiftly Transport Goods during a Publicly Announced State of Emergency Situation (FAST PASS) Act would direct the Secretary of Transportation to initiate a study to examine efforts to expedite the movement of critical cargo across all modes of transportation during emergencies.
“The FAST PASS Act will take steps towards expediting medical supplies at ports and marine terminals on to rail and truck transport during emergencies like COVID,” said HIDA President and CEO Matthew J. Rowan. “During public health emergencies, essential medical supply shipments need to be prioritized. HIDA is grateful to Representatives Ezell and Garamendi for introducing this important legislation and for their leadership on transportation issues impacting our healthcare.”
“When America faces emergencies like Hurricane Katrina or the COVID-19 pandemic, our supply chains must be ready to respond. That’s why we're introducing the FAST PASS Act, which will help get critical supplies across the country quickly and efficiently,” said Congressman Ezell. “I'm grateful to have Congressman Garamendi's help leading this bipartisan bill so our transportation system is better prepared for future emergencies.”
“As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, congestion and supply chain crunches at American ports for medical supplies and other critical cargo can be a matter of life and death,” Congressman Garamendi said. “I am pleased to co-author this important bill with Congressman Ezell to ensure the U.S. Department of Transportation can expedite delivery of critical cargo at our nation’s ports when American jobs and, even more importantly, lives are on the line.”
During the West Coast port backlog of 2021-22, approximately 31,000-46,000 containers of critical medical supplies were delayed an average of 29 days throughout the transportation system. A single shipping container can hold up to 3.5 million pairs of exam gloves, 187,000 surgical gowns, and 360,000 syringes.
Key provisions of the bill include:
- Evaluate methodologies, practices, and processes for expediting cargo during a Federal Emergency
- Require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to consult with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other relevant agencies
- Examine processes to mitigate impact on the movement of other cargo that is not deemed critical during an emergency
- Include recommendations for using data from commercial and government data tracking systems to determine which cargo is critical and when it needs to be expedited
- DOT will seek public comment and issue a report to Congress two years after enactment
- The agency has the option of establishing one or more voluntary pilot programs to test the effectiveness of recommended practices included in the report
Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) represents the healthcare distribution network – the essential link between global healthcare supply manufacturers and local care providers. HIDA members operate more than 500+ distribution centers to bring critical products, supplies, and services to more than 560,000 healthcare settings across the U.S., including hospitals, long-term care, physician practices, home care, and laboratories. Visit HIDA.org.