Texas Company Claims They Have Millions Of Masks, But Are Apparently Trying To Sell Them For Six Times The Normal Price

Proving once more that capitalism and for-profit healthcare really sucks.

613 points

A Texas company had over 1 million N95 masks in its possession and sold them for far more than the normal price during a pandemic at a time when hospitals need them the most to save lives.

An investigation of a transaction between Hatfield and Co. and an oil company last week turned up evidence of price-gouging and a shady lack of knowledge of the purchase by company officials.

The masks are a critical medical supply that helps keep doctors and nurses from contracting the coronavirus as they treat patients. Many states are begging for the masks right now as President Donald Trump continues to bungle his response to the crisis by failing to send enough masks or none at all.

But it looks like an oil company exec is trying to turn a profit on a supply of millions of masks by paying more than top dollar for them from Hatfield and Co. in a purchase that should draw legal scrutiny and outrage from the American people.

According to the Texas Tribune:

[T]he pitch from industrial supplier Hatfield and Co. to sell as many as 2 million masks to a major U.S. oil company last week wasn’t your typical offer. The Texas-based supplier wanted $6.3 million for a minimum order of 1 million masks, with an option of buying 2 million for nearly $13 million, sales documents and interviews indicate.

According to sales documents provided to the oil company by Hatfield and Co., the cash price for a million masks was $6,310,000. If the oil company wanted to pay within 30 days, it would have to cough up another $100,000 — for a total of $6,410,000, according to the document. But the company could only use credit for one of the orders.”

Indeed, that represents quite a mark-up in price for these masks.

“You’re not just marking it up like 50 cents. This is highway robbery,” an industry salesperson familiar with Hatfield and Co.’s pitch told the Tribune. “It’s just disgusting to me.”

In fact, the price is over $6 per mask, which struck University of Houston’s Consumer Law Center director Richard Alderman as excessive.

“If the costs of materials or doing business went up substantially, that, to me, would be a mitigating factor. But … start with just looking at whether that price is excessive or exorbitant,” he said. “And for me, six times normal cost — that’s 600%. I view that as excessive and exorbitant — something that they can only do because of the emergency situation.”

Hatfield and Co. officials were murky on the details of the transactions and refused to give out information on who they bought the masks from. It appears whoever sold them basically demanded a high price and got rich. And now the company had to price them up to make a profit from the oil company, which will also likely do the same as states bid on supplies of N95 masks.

People are getting rich off this pandemic. They are getting rich as bodies pile up in morgues across the country.

It’s not only unethical and immoral, but it also demonstrates why we need universal healthcare and proves that capitalism in America is broken.

Featured image via screen capture/Wikimedia Commons

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613 points