At the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, when little was known about the virus and its impact, the federal government quickly planned its response to keep Americans safe and healthy. The U.S. shut down for a month to slow the spread, and the CDC released guidelines for local governments, while the federal government contracted medical companies to manufacture critical supplies like ventilators. These contracts played a critical role in the public health response to the pandemic.
Six months later, after private industry quickly ramped up production to replenish the ventilator shortage in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), the Trump Administration cancelled the contracts with Vyaire Medical Inc. Hamilton Medical, and Philips before deliveries were complete because the SNS became fully stocked. But instead of applauding the current Administration’s efforts to procure life-saving medical equipment in a short time, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Democrats are accusing the Trump Administration of bad faith negotiations.
The Committee’s majority released a report on this issue that purported the Trump Administration negotiated a bad deal, at the burden of the taxpayers, to secure ventilators during a pandemic that were thousands of dollars above the market price. This is not only far from the truth, it politicizes the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s quick response to secure lifesaving equipment while ignoring the great benefits that stemmed from these deals.
Health and Human Services (HHS) contracted with several private companies, some that have entered federal contracts before, to manufacture ventilators around $15,000 per unit. This negotiated price reflects the extremely condensed delivery timeline that was crucial to meet. But Philips, one of the companies that agreed to produce ventilators for the U.S. stockpile, will unfairly be a focal point of the House Democrats’ investigation despite several contracts charging around the same price-point.
The baseless claim that the federal government is being overcharged stems from a research and development contract that’s over 5 years old when HHS and Philips partnered to develop a stockpile ventilator. Philips charged a special price for the production of those ventilators, if the product was eventually approved by the FDA, because the government was also investing in this technology.
The FDA eventually approved the ventilator in 2019. Every government contract is different and in this examining them under the same scope is overly simplistic. It stands to reason that if Philips received approval more quickly, President Trump would have inherited a larger national ventilator stockpile.
In addition to helping the U.S. in a time of need, these companies hired hundreds of highly trained, well-paid American workers to work in U.S. manufacturing facilities to produce these life-saving medical devices.
Why would any medical companies want to go through the hassle of entering a government contract when Congress unfairly mischaracterizes their good faith negotiations for political gain? It’s a deterrent that will put off many great companies that want to do good. Hopefully, the Subcommittee’s Republican Representatives Glenn Grothman, James Comer, Chip Roy, Carol Miller, and Fred Keller will do an excellent job setting the record straight during the upcoming hearing.
The federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in filling the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile to capacity with ventilators in a short amount of time. The House Oversight Committee has an important job to examine government actions to ensure they are in our best interests, but the recent investigation by the House Democrats is unfair and inaccurate.
Katlyn Batts is a contributor at RedState.com.