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Supply chain, inflation issues continue to cripple Cleveland-area businesses

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Posted at 7:29 AM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 07:29:08-05

CLEVELAND — A blockade of truckers upset over Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions recently caused even more disruptions to our supply chain and while the country invoked an emergency action to end it, the issue could come back to light.

On Wednesday, a group called the "People’s Convoy" plans to leave California and head to the nation’s capital. D.C. is currently securing areas to prevent a shutdown.

According to a press release we found, the group is asking elected officials "to work with the blue-collar and white-collar workers of America and restore accountability and liberty by lifting all mandates and ending the state of emergency – as COVID is well-in-hand now, and Americans need to get back to work in a free and unrestricted manner."

But the group is making a stop in Ohio.

Shipping delays impacting local businesses

Like many business owners across Northeast Ohio, Anita Hamid is struggling to keep her store afloat. She owns Accurate Medical Supply in Tallmadge. Hamid says the challenge initially came with masks and gloves.

“Within a month, month and a half, the price of gloves like tripled, quadrupled. Then we couldn't get them.”

Now, she says there the challenge is with hospital beds and walkers. The shortage of supply is still driving up inflation.

“The hospital bed cost is more than what we get reimbursed from the insurance company,” said Hamid. “Every time we get an order, it's like surcharges like they're paying more for containers to come in and then they have to pass that cost on to somebody.”

Data from the Health Industry Distributors' Association shows back in December, shipping containers hauling medical supplies were on a delay of up to 37 days because of congestion at the ports. Officials are now working to prioritize shipping containers with medical supplies. Yet, the domino effect is forcing Hamid to constantly find short-term solutions. She worries some of her customers will skip out on supplies or be forced to pay more.

“I have contracts that I've signed and then they've told me, as soon as your contract's up, your price is going to go up…unfortunately, Medicaid and the insurance companies, they're not going to reimburse anymore, you know, so you're stuck. Either you supply the customers or you try to switch into something that's cheaper, but cheaper isn't always better for a customer,” Hamid explained. “You can't give stuff away for free. I mean, we just can't because I have employees, I have overhead and stuff to pay for it up front.”

Is there any help from state officials?

Hamid and other medical companies now trying to contact Governor Mike DeWine’s office to help push for a plan to get Medicaid to temporarily increase reimbursements. So far, they haven’t gotten a response. Still, Hamid is encouraging other companies and customers to speak up.