US Congress this week approved a $36.5 billion emergency relief bill that will give Puerto Rico access to $4.9 billion in treasury loans to support continued Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in the region, according to a Bloomberg report.
The bill passed the senate in an 82 to 17 vote on Tuesday after being approved 353 to 69 in the House earlier in the month, and now awaits the President’s signature.
Medtech industry group AdvaMed lauded the bill, saying that it will help ensure that medical device manufacturing facilities “get back to 100% as quickly as possible and continue to supply these important products without interruption.”
“On behalf of the medical technology industry and the patients we serve, AdvaMed commends Congress for their action to provide additional funding to aid the people of Puerto Rico in their efforts to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. Our industry is a critical component of Puerto Rico’s economy, with more than 20 medical technology manufacturers that account for over 15,000 jobs on the island. These facilities produce devices and diagnostics that are vital to helping patients worldwide live longer, healthier, and more productive lives, including products for diabetes care, heart valves, pacemakers and defibrillators, and advanced cancer diagnostics,” AdvaMed prez & CEO Scott Whitaker said in a prepared statement.
The bill will also provide $16 billion in forgiven debt to the National Flood Insurance Program which was slated to run out of money as early as this week, according to Bloomberg.
In late September, FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and its medical device manufacturing facilities was “just as bad, if not worse, than predicted.“