Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Illinois Democrat, interviewed witnesses during a hearing to impeach the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, DC, the United States, on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.
Jacquelyn Martin | AP | Bloomberg via Getty Images
The House Oversight Committee accused the Trump administration of "incompetent negotiations" for ventilators at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it "wasted" more than $ 500 million in taxpayers' money on essential equipment .
"The waste of taxpayers' money caused by the Trump administration's incompetent venture efforts to ventilate could be as high as $ 500 million or more," said a report released on Friday by Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.
The committee said the Trump administration had poorly managed an existing contract with Philips Respironics and agreed to pay $ 15,000 a piece for Trilogy EV300 ventilators this year after Philips repeated 10,000 Trilogy Evo universal ventilators for 2014 $ 3,280 ordered, had not been delivered.
The committee said there was no evidence that the Trump administration tried to negotiate a lower price for the ventilators.
According to the report, the original contract stipulated that the 10,000 Trilogy Evo ventilators should be delivered to the U.S. government by June 2019 at the latest.
"The Trump administration has mismanaged Philips' repeated violations of contractual requirements. It has granted Philips three additional extensions, the last of which allowed the final delivery of the ventilators until June 2021," the report said. "If the Trump administration had tied Philips to the terms of the Obama-era contract, the country would have had 10,000 ventilators needed at the time of the coronavirus crisis."
Instead, led by U.S. trade advisor Peter Navarro, White House officials have negotiated a new contract with Philips and agreed to pay almost five times the original price for the equipment. The new contract included 43,000 Trilogy EV300 ventilators for $ 15,000. This is also more than a third model, the Trilogy Evo, sold at a market list price of $ 11,167.
The Trilogy Evo Universal and the Trilogy Evo appear to be two separate ventilators. However, the committee concluded: "Apart from the price, there is no discernible difference in appearance or functionality between the Trilogy Evo Universal, the Trilogy Evo and the Trilogy EV300," the report said.
"The Trump administration's efforts are over half a billion dollars in waste, fraud, or abuse. Philips should return the surplus to help support the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic," the report said.
Frans van Houten, CEO of Dutch parent company Royal Philips, said in a statement on Friday that she was "transparent about our start-up plans, pricing and allocation guidelines. We worked together and provided the requested information to the subcommittee."
Philips Respironics is a subsidiary that sells sleeping, breathing and breathing equipment.
Van Houten said the company "did not recognize the conclusions in the subcommittee report and we believe that not all of the information we provided was reflected in the report".
Democrats in the committee said they had conducted the investigation to determine why the country did not have enough ventilators in the "first critical months" of the coronavirus pandemic.
The results were based on documents and information collected by Philips Respironics, the report said.
A White House spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.