Since 2020, a global semiconductor chip shortage, coupled with supply chain issues, has impacted many industries, including medical devices that are vital to the health and safety of Americans. In the wake of the worldwide Philips recall of millions of breathing assistance devices, including CPAP machines for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and ventilators for respiratory failure, patients are even more endangered by the shortage of chips as they must remain untreated while waiting longer for these essential medical devices.

Earlier in 2022, the AASM led an effort to advocate for prioritization of medical devices in chip allocation, holding meetings with members of Congress and the White House, and submitting letters to government agencies. The AASM recently received a letter from the assistant secretary for preparedness and response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in response to our letter to Xavier Becerra, secretary of HHS, which stated the importance of prioritizing chips for medical devices. In the letter, Assistant Secretary O’Connell indicated that several U.S. departments, including HHS, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have all been working to mitigate the chip shortage and address resulting medical device concerns.

Beyond this engagement, in August the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 was signed into law, which provided $52.7 billion for semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce development. This law will allow the U.S. to develop and produce a larger percentage of chips domestically, as currently only 10% of chips are produced in the United States; this should help to mitigate similar situations in the future.

It is the hope of the AASM that the new law and other actions of the federal government will help alleviate this issue and encourage continued efforts to prioritize patient health and well-being. The AASM will continue to advocate for policies that improve issues affecting patients’ lives and our members’ ability to effectively treat patients.