Trump is trying to sell the nation’s stockpile of N95 masks. The federal government has supplied the marketplace with its strategic stockpile of N95 respirators. Trump should have given them to nursing homes and other health care providers. Instead the distribution will be made through the open marketplace. Prices for key PPE items skyrocketed in April on the open market. N95 masks manufactured by 3M were $6.75 each— a markup of more than 6,000%, if they were available at all.
Trump sent information on how health providers can buy seven million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile. Bloomberg Law reported the Stockpile currently has 44 million N95s on hand with 500 million more on order. Masks would flow “into the commercial market” for nursing homes to purchase. N95 masks are for sale.
The nursing home industry has sounded alarms about rising case COVID-19 case counts in the setting. CMS administrator Seema Verma remains “deeply concerned” about an uptick in infections at nursing homes. She blames persistently poor infection control practices and short staffing.
About 40% of respondents to an AHCA-commissioned survey of nursing home operators indicated that they could not stay in business at their current expense burdens over the next six months, with 72% saying they couldn’t last another year at this rate.
Trump’s plan to distribute two weeks’ worth of PPE to all nursing homes descended into chaos. Nursing homes complained to local and national news outlets with reports of incomplete shipments and defective equipment.