Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel, AGs ask Congress to freeze PPE prices, similar to WWII action

By: - April 27, 2020 6:14 am

Susan J. Demas

As demand for medical equipment skyrockets across the country, Attorney General Dana Nessel and other attorneys general want Congress to freeze prices on medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With over 37,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, Michigan has faced shortages of life-saving equipment and personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical staff.

High demand for equipment has resulted in bidding wars, the Attorney General’s office said in a press release — something Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has noted, as well. Not only do hospitals and health care providers have to battle it out for supplies, but state, local and tribal governments then have to use taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay corporate suppliers.

Nessel is leading a coalition of attorneys general to call upon Congress to freeze prices on medical equipment, barring artificial inflation, and thus preventing government agencies and hospitals from being pitted against each other.

“COVID-19 has stretched thin the health care industry’s supply chain and it is threatening to drain public coffers as governments at all levels are pitted against each other in bidding wars, fighting to procure the equipment their residents and employees desperately need,” Nessel said in a press release. “This country needs a united effort to keep the health care industry from unjustly profiting while the American people suffer. In normal times, supply and demand drive prices. But in a public health emergency when lives are at stake, government intervention is sometimes needed.” 

Nessel is joined by several attorneys general in sending a letter to Congress, including those from Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington.   

Congress would determine and enact price-control measures on medical supplies and equipment.

“Congress should intervene and enact legislation — similar to the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 enacted during World War II — fixing the prices of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals and emergency treatment centers of this country so desperately need in fighting the war against this ‘invisible enemy,’” the coalition’s letter states.

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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols is a former Michigan Advance intern. She is a Michigan State University graduate who has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.