House panel investigating Trump administration purchases of ventilators

A House panel is investigating the Trump administration’s purchases of ventilators last spring as the coronavirus pandemic was escalating.

Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — Walensky gives green light for boosters Lawmakers say Biden must do more on global vaccines Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Democrats press FTC to resolve data privacy 'crisis' MORE (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, has sent letters, which were shared with The Hill on Wednesday, to Combat Medical Systems and AutoMedx asking for documents and communications regarding contracts for two ventilator models.

The investigation was first reported by The Washington Post.

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The federal government signed a $16.2 million contract in April 2020 for the Department of Defense to purchase AutoMedx SAVe II ventilators from Combat Medical as part of an effort to increase ventilator supply.

However, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) later found the ventilator was inadequate for treating COVID-19 patients.

HHS then entered into a $62.5 million contract with Combat Medical in June to purchase AutoMedx SAVe II+ ventilators, which was supposed to be an improved model. However, the new model was also found to be insufficient for those hospitalized with coronavirus.

“Reports and independent studies have indicated that the ventilators purchased by the federal government may not be appropriate for their intended purpose of treating COVID-19 patients, which raises serious questions about whether their purchase for nearly $70 million constitutes waste, fraud, or abuse,” Krishnamoorthi wrote.

HHS and the Defense Logistics Agency purchased 11,200 ventilators from Combat Medical, according to the Post.

Krishnamoorthi noted that AutoMedix co-founder Adrian Urias reportedly advised the Trump administration on ventilator purchases, and that HHS’s specifications for performance requirements of ventilators bear a “striking resemblance” to a brochure for the SAVe II ventilator.

Krishnamoorthi wrote that these purchases “could constitute the waste of government funds and an endangerment of patients’ lives.”

The Hill has reached out to Combat Medical and AutoMedx for comment.