Report: Hospitals Say The Feds Are Seizing Their Supplies Without Any Notice
President Donald Trump has made clear that he wants states and hospitals to secure their own medical supplies in fighting the coronavirus pandemic — his administration is not a “shipping clerk,” he said — but medical providers across the country say the federal government is swooping in to seize orders without warning, and they have no idea where those supplies are going or how they can get the items they need.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the “Federal Emergency Management Agency is not publicly reporting the acquisitions, despite the outlay of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, nor has the administration detailed how it decides which supplies to seize and where to reroute them.”
But hospital and clinic officials have made clear that the seizures are taking place, and they have received no help from the government in terms of whether or how they might gain access to the supplies they initially ordered.
The Trump administration — in particular, the president and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner — has said it is using a data-driven approach to doling out supplies in an effort to ensure that medical equipment is being directed to the places that need it most urgently.
“High-transmission areas were prioritized, and allocations were based on population, not on quantities requested,” a FEMA representative told the LA Times, noting that the agency is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense on the strategy.
But confusion continues as the federal government refuses to offer “any details about how these determinations are made or why it is choosing to seize some supply orders and not others,” the news outlet reported.
Hospital and health officials say the federal government simply comes in and commandeers supplies without warning, and without providing any guidance on how they should replenish their own stockpiles.
“Everyone says you are supposed to be on your own,” Jose Camacho, head of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, told the LA Times, referencing the president’s repeated comments that states and hospitals should not rely on his administration for supplies. “Then to have this happen, you just sit there wondering what else you can do. You can’t fight the federal government.”
His group had attempted to buy a relatively small order of just 20,000 masks when the supplier informed them that the federal government had stepped in to take it.