NEW YORK, NY — Gov. Ned Lamont joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo and three other northeastern governors on a live broadcast Sunday to talk about a new, seven-state buying consortium.
The buying consortium for medical supplies will include Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
“We drove up prices by our own competition,” Cuomo said during a noon news briefing.
Cuomo said New York has already purchased about $2 billion in medical supplies, but will be able to increase its market power by adding the other states.
The buying consortium will make the states “more competitive in the international marketplace,” Cuomo said. “And I believe it will save taxpayers money. I also believe it will help us get the equipment.”
He said they are looking to buy about $5 billion worth of medical supplies collectively as a seven state consortium.
He said they are still having trouble getting the equipment and they’ve struggled with dealing with certain brokers who started their businesses as soon as the pandemic started because they saw an opportunity. However, not all these brokers have been honest. Cuomo said the states need to start sharing the names of irresponsible brokers.
“Let’s stop doing business with vendors who we found to be irresponsible and we found out the hard way,” Cuomo said. “Let’s see if we can’t do the purchasing in this country. Let’s see if we can’t do the purchasing in this region.”
Lamont said when it comes to purchasing the states have learned something.
“We could wait for the national stockpile. We could wait for that plane to land from China, but let’s see what we can do ourselves,” Lamont said. “I wouldn’t mind having some of that New York state purchasing power.”
Connecticut had been struggling to get personal protective equipment to the state. The last shipment it received from the national stockpile was on March 28 and some of their orders with their traditional suppliers started to slip.
Lamont has admitted that purchasing personal protective equipment and medical supplies has been difficult, but has improved in the last few weeks.
“Look, it was the wild west out there and in many cases if we wanted to get the masks we needed we had to be a little more aggressive in terms of providing some of the shipping up front, providing some of the funding up front, only if we could vet that in the most serious way,” Lamont said April 15.
Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer and the head of the Department of Administrative Services, said they changed the terms under which the state could purchase these goods in early March. And they had to vet many offers of help obtaining supplies, many of which didn’t come to fruition. Then, an executive order in mid-April allowed Connecticut to purchase from Chinese suppliers.
“There is a tremendous amount of fraud out there and we do work very hard to diligence every lead that comes in and not be haphazard about it,” Geballe has said.
Lamont said the consortium will allow them to make sure “we control more of our own destiny,” in the months to come.
As of Friday Connecticut had $62 million in outstanding orders for PPE.