• By The Financial District


An investigation released Friday (Saturday, August 1, 2020 in Manila) by House Democrats says President Donald Trump's administration overpaid by up to $500 million on ventilators as the coronavirus pandemic first struck the United States, Nicholas Wu wrote for USA Today on August 2, 2020.

In a review of thousands of pages of internal administration documents, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee said Phillips North America was contracted to deliver 43,000 ventilators to the federal government for a significantly higher price than it did under previous contracts for functionally identical ventilator models delivered under contracts dating to President Barack Obama's administration. A functionally identical ventilator was delivered to the Obama administration under a 2014 contract for $3,280.

Based on the report's review of purchases between December 2019 and May 2020, other small purchasers, even those that purchased only one ventilator of the same model, secured them for as low as $9,327. "No American purchaser paid more than the US government," the report said.

"The American people got ripped off, and Donald Trump and his team got taken to the cleaners," said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, whose subcommittee led the investigation. "The Trump Administration’s mishandling of ventilator procurement for the nation’s stockpile cost the American people dearly during the worst public health crisis of our generation." Democrats called for Phillips to return the amount of money they said the government was overcharged.

Phillips denied the report's findings, saying the company did not raise prices in relation to the pandemic, and argued the increased price of the ventilators actually represented a "discount." Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips, said in a statement the company did "not recognize the conclusions in the subcommittee’s report, and we believe that not all the information that we provided has been reflected in the report." He added: "I would like to make clear that at no occasion has Philips raised prices to benefit from the crisis situation." According to Phillips, the list price of the ventilator ordered under the contract is $21,000 and was supplied to the Trump administration for $15,000, which the company called a "discount" given the rushed production schedule.