OPED by Congressman, Andy Biggs
At a recent virtual town hall, I was asked what our nation should learn from the coronavirus pandemic. The spread of the virus and the responses by local, state, and federal government officials have touched every aspect of American life. The following are just a few of the lessons to be learned.
Stockpile vital medical supplies
Congress and the executive branch must make sure that the national stockpile of medical supplies is replenished, including ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other critical material.
We shouldn’t replicate what happened after the H1N1 health crisis by depleting our stockpile and failing to replenish items that were removed and used in the treatment of patients.
President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their team will not repeat the mistake of the previous administration. There are several ways to replenish the stockpile, including by creating market incentives for the private sector.
Manufacture vital supplies in the U.S.
We must provide incentives to bring our medical supply chain home. We can help this effort by restructuring our tax and regulatory policies.
The federal government should not mandate how and when this is to be done but should remove the market-distorting taxes and regulations that have resulted in the outsourcing of much of our critical supply chain in many important sectors of our economy, including health care.
If more medical supplies and drugs were manufactured in the United States – with the easing of governmental interference in the market – experts have said we could have a faster and greater response to health emergencies and not be dependent on other nations for these needed items.
Controlling our own medical supply chain could enable us to have a quicker response to a demand for certain drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are being investigated as possible treatments for infection with the coronavirus. We could conduct more testing for emerging health threats and increase our supply of PPE.
Lift regulatory burdens
President has eased some of the regulatory burdens on American manufacturers with consistently favorable results. This demonstrates that the free market gives us the best method of determining what is needed and wanted in the economy – far better than relentless regulatory pressure from government.
Faster FDA approval for drugs
We have to streamline the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for new drugs. Under President Trump’s leadership, the FDA has streamlined some areas. But we actually have drugs that have received Phase One approval that can’t be used because they haven’t received Phase Two approval.
Phase One determines whether a drug is safe for human consumption. After that determination and after potential risks are identified, some of those medicines might be used without going through the exhaustive, costly and time-consuming Phase Two to determine their effectiveness.
World Health Organization
Another takeaway comes from the misconduct of the World Health Organization (WHO) – including providing erroneous information at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Politically motivated international institutions led by those who aren’t honest brokers should be avoided and receive no financial support from America.
Get our spending under control
It is hugely important that we get our fiscal house in order. If our national budget continues to outspend even record federal revenue, government relief spending that may have the best of intentions will actually exacerbate the negative ramifications for our economy.
The spending in the Phase 3 coronavirus economic relief package just a couple of weeks ago far exceeded the typical annual spending level by the federal government of about $1.4 trillion. If congressionally approved budgets were in order, we could more easily sustain a massive spending bill that might be needed to mitigate the economic devastation from a public health crisis.
Recognize differences among states
Finally, our nation must understand that each state in our union is different. Leaders of each state know what is best for their citizens. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for public health issues.
The federal government may set guidelines and provide support, but each state must assume ownership for the safety of its citizens. What is good for New York may not be good for Arizona, and vice versa.
There is much to learn, and hopefully we can use these lessons to make this country even better. We are going to have a hard time on our hands for at least the near term, but we will make our country greater than ever before.
That’s why I love the American people. They’re set, they’re ready to go forward, they want to accomplish great things – and they can. This is a great country with great people, and I have considerable hope for the future.