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Michigan AG calls on Congress to temporarily fix prices of medical supplies

13 attorneys general send letter to Congress amid unprecedented coronavirus pandemic

This Tuesday, March 31, 2020 photo provided by emergency room nurse Cynthia Riemer shows her at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, wearing a welders mask from a hardware store and other hospital-issued protective gear. Nurses are supplementing their hospital PPE with items such as the welders mask to conserve hospital supplies. (Cynthia Riemer via AP)
This Tuesday, March 31, 2020 photo provided by emergency room nurse Cynthia Riemer shows her at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, wearing a welders mask from a hardware store and other hospital-issued protective gear. Nurses are supplementing their hospital PPE with items such as the welders mask to conserve hospital supplies. (Cynthia Riemer via AP) (Cynthia Riemer)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is asking Congress to regulate medical equipment prices amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

MORE: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s where we stand today

Nessel, in tandem with 12 attorneys general from across the U.S., sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday to request that lawmakers regulate prices of medical supplies and equipment to fight against artificial inflation, officials said. The temporary price fix will also prevent suppliers from profiteering off of regions and agencies in need as the pandemic escalates around the country, officials said.

As of Wednesday morning, there are 32,967 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,700 deaths in Michigan. Throughout the state -- and the country -- hospitals and medical centers have been facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and and medical equipment, like ventilators.

States like Michigan and Ohio are also working to acquire materials needed to ramp up COVID-19 testing, which are currently limited in supply.

“COVID-19 has stretched thin the health care industry’s supply chain and it is threatening to drain public coffers as governments at all levels are pitted against each other in bidding wars, fighting to procure the equipment their residents and employees desperately need,” Nessel said. “This country needs a united effort to keep the health care industry from unjustly profiting while the American people suffer. In normal times, supply and demand drive prices. But in a public health emergency when lives are at stake, government intervention is sometimes needed, and I urge Congress to act.”

The letter states that Congress is the appropriate entity to regulate these prices, as it has done so in the past during WWII. Officials also say that federal oversight will be more effective than states trying to regulate prices individually, as corporations can choose not to do business with certain states.

Nessel is joined in sending the letter by attorneys general from the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Click here to view the entire letter from the attorneys general.

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