Sens. Moran, Tester Introduce Bill to Bolster VA’s Pandemic Preparedness

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – ranking member and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) – introduced legislation to include the Department of the Veterans Affairs (VA) in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Warstopper program to ensure the VA has access to critical health care supplies in future pandemics.

Through the Warstopper program, the Department of Defense contracts with manufacturers and suppliers to keep a medical inventory ready in case of an emergency. The Warstopper program helped provide N95 masks, gloves, isolation gowns and other supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The VA Supply Chain Resiliency Act would add the VA to the Warstopper program to improve the VA’s access to critical supplies in future emergencies.

“This pandemic taught us the devastating consequences of a weak supply chain,” said Sen. Moran. “The VA provides health care to our nation’s veterans and, in times of emergency, the general public. As one of the largest integrated health care systems in the country, it is common sense to require the VA to be part of the Warstopper program to ensure the VA has a strong supply chain for future pandemics.”

“For the last year, my focus has been squarely on bolstering the supply chain to get more veterans and VA staff the protection they need against COVID-19,” said Sen. Tester. “And we need an all-hands-on-deck approach when it comes to making sure VA has the capacity to purchase medical supplies quickly and efficiently to deliver care for veterans and their families. Our bipartisan bill is simple—it requires DoD and VA to work together using a program already in place to build a resilient supply chain so VA can tackle immediate and future emergencies without delay.”

This legislation would require the VA to assess its supply chain and report to Congress which items are critical for its response to COVID-19 and other emergency situations and provide an implementation plan including which items are best maintained through the Warstopper program.

Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Tracey Mann (R-Kan.) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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