Houston officials face 1000% markup on healthcare supplies from private marketplace

HOUSTON – With a nationwide medical supply shortage, Houston officials are searching for items the city needs now.

But to get more supplies, Houston may have to pay a private company 1000% more than the original price of N95 masks, which are essential for protecting first responders from the coronavirus.

“I have to tell you, it’s become a bidding war,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Thursday.

Houston Health Department's Dr. David Persse said N95 masks usually cost 50 cents each. However, Turner said Wednesday he approved to pay a private company $4 per mask.

And, the city lost that bid.

“We were notified today that someone had bid more than that, and they were not going to follow-through and honor that agreement,” Turner said.

The city has placed a new bid with a different private company for $2 million with the cost per mask at $5.56.

When asked if this was considered price gouging, Turner said, "Well, let me get the masks first, and then I'll answer later."