(CNN)Desperate for critically needed medical supplies, hospitals and states have swarmed to the private market to obtain equipment only to have it suddenly seized — and later re-distributed — by the federal government, fueling frustration and concern among health care providers across the country. A surge in demand resulted in skyrocketing prices. To crack down on companies believed to be exploiting the situation, the Justice Department in late March set up a task force to identify companies selling their products for an increased rate. The Justice Department has more than 150 open price gouging and hoarding investigations through the task force, according to a DOJ official. Once DOJ identifies potential price gouging, it alerts the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security leading federal operations response, including supply distribution. FEMA may then buy the supply at market value and distribute supplies using authorities in the Defense Production Act.For weeks, states urged President Donald Trump to invoke authorities provided in the wartime-era law that gives the government more control over the supply chain. Trump, in turn, argued that states should acquire equipment on their own accord. Now, both the authorities provided by that law, invoked in


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