Demand for intensive care unit ventilators skyrocketed as healthcare facilities dealt with the surges of COVID-19 patients over the course of the pandemic, which still goes on today after gaining steam in March. Kaiser’s report noted that White House officials, such as senior adviser (and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law) Jared Kushner, claimed the federal stockpile was not meant for the states, leaving them to track down ventilators elsewhere.
As the Trump administration sought to replenish its own supply of ventilators, officials from a number of states have said that they ordered millions of dollars’ worth of machines from private companies, sometimes bidding against the federal government.
Kaiser, for example, cited emails obtained in a public records request in which Christina Dayries, a senior state official for homeland security and emergency preparedness in Louisiana, noted that ordering 2,000 ventilators from Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) would cost $88 million at $43,500 per machine. For that ventilator model, Medtronic charged an average price of $35,383 last year, according to market analysis by ECRI.
In a Medtronic statement to Kaiser, the medtech giant said Louisiana was given its price before a point in April when the company moved to flat rates for which every U.S. customer pays the same cost for a particular model and configuration. Medtronic didn’t offer a concrete price but told Kaiser the prices are lower than before the pandemic.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told Kaiser that the federal government has multiple ventilator contracts in an effort to ensure a sufficient supply of machines during the ongoing pandemic and future pandemics if needed.