JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Missouri Hospital Association President Herb Kuhn are warning of potential price gouging that could affect the medical supply chain in containing the spread of COVID-19.
“As Missouri and the country continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19, price gouging related to the medical supply chain is something that my office is closely monitoring. I appreciate the Missouri Hospital Association’s efforts to bring this to the attention of Missourians,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “While there aren’t any complaints or recorded instances of medical supply chain price gouging as of yet, we urge hospital staff or anyone who has information to report those instances to our office. If we do receive complaints and we can take legal action, we will.”
Herb Kuhn, President and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association, said, “Missouri’s hospitals appreciate the proactive effort by Attorney General Schmitt to put on notice those who might participate in price-gouging of medical supplies during the coronavirus. The hospital community is working hard to ensure the public has ready access to health and medical supplies to contain the public spread of this virus.”
According to the Missouri Hospital Association, hospitals have not yet reported a challenge within their supply chain for items needed to protect the public. However, as supplies become more constrained, hospitals and other health care providers may need to work outside of their normal supply chains to source items like personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, which are essential to protect patients and frontline caregivers. This could potentially open up the medical supply chain to bad actors who may spike prices.
Several steps have been taken by the CDC, OSHA and the state to modify guidance on supply utilization, which could help temporarily. However, as officials move up the curve of the virus’ spread, supplies will likely become tight.
The Attorney General’s Office will watch for and urges people to report any price gouging if hospitals or other providers need to look outside of the supply chain as current stock and any surge from the state or national stockpile are exhausted.
Please report any and all instances of price gouging to the Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline by calling 1-800-392-8222 or by filing a complaint online at https://ago.mo.gov/app/consumercomplaint.