A staff report released by a House Oversight subcommittee on economic and consumer policy on Friday alleged that President Donald Trump’s administration overpaid for tens of thousands of ventilators amid the COVID-19 crisis. According to the document, the White House’s “failure in contract management and inept negotiation” kept ventilators away from Americans who needed them and ultimately may have cost taxpayers at least $500 million more than they should have.
The document provides details about a subcommittee investigation into the administration’s dealings with Philips Respironics. The company is a leading maker of ventilators with whom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with back in 2014, under then-President Barack Obama, to provide 10,000 Trilogy Evo Universal ventilators for use in the event of a pandemic.
That investigation deemed that the Trump White House failed to ensure that the manufacturer made good on its delivery of ventilators by the November 2019 deadline. The panel further alleged that Philips later approached the administration about accelerating the delivery of the ventilators to help with the burgeoning coronavirus crisis, but was not given a response for several weeks.
Instead, the administration reportedly negotiated a new deal with the manufacturer for the delivery of 43,000 nearly identical ventilators — called Trilogy EV300s — and paid a substantially higher amount for them. In the original 2014 contract, the EVO Universal ventilators were given a purchase price of $3,280 apiece. The new contract is said to have included a unit price for the EV300s of $15,000.
During the course of its investigation, the Oversight panel found that no American purchaser had paid more than the federal government for the new ventilators, with some having negotiated individual unit cost as low as $9,327.
Additionally, the oversight subcommittee assessed that the new ventilators had no additional benefits for treating COVID-19 when compared to those purchased through the Obama-era agreement.
Emails between senior administration officials and Philips representatives, as well as other documents obtained from the manufacturer, were cited in the report, which summarized the panel’s findings.
“If the Trump Administration had purchased 43,000 Trilogy Evo Universals for the same price that the Obama Administration had negotiated, it would have spent $503,960,000 less in taxpayer dollars,” the report stated. “There is no indication that the units the Administration purchased provide any benefit over the Trilogy Evo Universals, which were designed specifically for use in a pandemic… The Trump Administration’s efforts constitute over half-a-billion dollars of waste, fraud, or abuse. Philips should return the excess so that it may aid the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
As shared recently by The Inquisitr, Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was criticized on social media for claiming that the world looks to the U.S. as a leader in the global COVID-19 crisis.