CHICAGO (CBS) — It was hailed as a swift action by the government to stop the rising number of COVID-19 cases during the holidays.
Every American family could have four free COVID tests delivered to their doorstep. Although the rollout went smoothly and cases decreased, how much you actually paid for these tests remains a mystery.
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CBS 2’s Chris Tye has more on the $2 billion issue.
The American taxpayer paid for the tests. The USPS delivered the tests. A Chicago-based company won one of the test manufacturing contracts. They probably made hundreds of millions on a deal that remains shrouded in secrecy.
“The federal government will purchase half a billion additional rapid home tests with delivery starting in January,” President Joe Biden said.
Three weeks late companies were making them, three weeks later they were arriving in millions of American mailboxes. It was four per household. But how much did you pay for each test?
A press release from the US Department of Defense shows that three companies shared the nearly $2 billion the federal government paid for the tests.
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iHealthLabs of California, Roche Diagnostics of Indiana and Abbott Rapid DX North America, which is produced in Florida and has its parent company in the northern suburbs.
Abbott would not say how much they were paid per test. CBS 2 got a similar rock wall from the Department of Defense and the US military. Last month, a Department of Defense spokesperson told Kaiser Health News that this was accelerated with…
“…approval of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology to contract without providing for full and open competition…due to urgent and compelling need…”
A federal database showed which contracts awarded to companies and although deals with Abbott Rapid from 2020 show up when searching the site, there is no sign of the contracts for these home tests, d likely worth several hundred million dollars. This is despite Department of Justice policy dating back to the 1980s that said:
“The prices of government contracts should not be secret. Public procurement is public procurement and taxpayers have a right to know, with very few exceptions, what the government has agreed to buy and at what price.
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This is just part of the half billion tests promised by President Biden. Cost per test is something consumer watchdog groups have said demonstrate who gets the better deal: the taxpayer or the companies doing the testing.