Medical Companies Warn PPE Situation ‘Not Sustainable,’ House Memo Says
Six of the largest medical equipment distribution companies in the U.S. have raised concerns over the Trump administration’s coordination for getting critical medical supplies to coronavirus hotspots, according to a House memo obtained by NBC News.
The memo was sent by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus on Thursday, “ahead of its hearing on the administration’s efforts to procure, stockpile and distribute critical supplies during the pandemic.”
Maloney said “the companies are cautioning that the supply of personal protective equipment for medical staff is not meeting demand and that prices for raw materials have increased ‘dramatically.’” “Despite months of effort, there are still severe shortages of PPE and critical medical equipment, and the Trump administration has no coherent strategy to address these deficiencies,” Maloney wrote. The memo refers to PPE generally, but specifically warns that raw material for surgical gowns is “unavailable at any price.”
The companies that shared concerns with the committee include Cardinal Health, Concordance Healthcare Solutions, Henry Schein, McKesson, Medline, and Owens & Minor.
The Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA), which NBC News noted is “a conduit between the Trump administration and medical companies,” told committee staff that it had been asking the administration for months to create a national supply chain.
Maloney said in the memo that “Medline directly asked the administration for a federal ‘umbrella’ but ‘politics has gotten in the way of that.’” The companies told committee staff that obtaining personal protective equipment for U.S. medical personnel and patients under current conditions is “not sustainable,” Maloney wrote.
NBC News reported that the “memo outlines the companies’ repeated requests to the White House Supply Chain Task Force for a coordinated federal response, saying they lack the data to obtain the best prices and prioritize supplies.”
President Donald Trump said during a Thursday press conference that U.S. companies “have all the equipment they need.” The White House has for months resisted calls from the nation’s top medical associations and providers to coordinate the purchase and distribution of supplies including protective gear and ventilators. The head of the American Medical Association and others called on Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to coordinate supply and demand, including prioritizing hot spots and safeguarding against price gouging.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told the committee on June 18 that “the supply chain is still not stable" but claimed distributors can now “do it on their own,” the memo says.