Health care company accused of vaccinating ineligible people for a fee

Coronavirus

RN Connie Garcia extracts a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine which will be administered to a Texas Tech University Health Science Center student at Texas Tech University Health Science Center’s Academic Building Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Odessa, Texas. (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A health care company doing business in San Diego County could face repercussions in coming weeks as a congressional committee overseeing the COVID-19 pandemic has opened an investigation over reports it administered vaccines to wealthy people who were not eligible to receive them.

One Medical, a membership-based primary care provider, is based in San Francisco but has locations in Carlsbad, downtown San Diego and La Jolla. The company’s patients pay a $199 annual fee for VIP health care services.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina, chair of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter on Monday night to Amir Dan Rubin, One Medical’s CEO and president.

“Prioritizing the vaccination of Americans who are at higher risk from the coronavirus is critical to saving lives and controlling the pandemic as vaccine manufacturing and distribution ramp up,” Clyburn wrote. “Yet reports indicate that One Medical has repeatedly and intentionally disregarded vaccine eligibility requirements in multiple cities and states over the past two months — diverting vital vaccine doses away from vulnerable populations to benefit wealthy concierge clients and friends and family members of your company’s executives who are not eligible under state and local guidelines.”

Clyburn cited multiple news reports of issues with the company.

The committee is demanding information from the company regarding its vaccine practices by a March 15 deadline. Clyburn also wants a demographic breakdown of the vaccinated population and how many vaccines have been administered by the company.

San Diego County spokesman Michael Workman said the county provided around 900 vaccine doses — both first and second doses — but stopped after “numerous complaints” of charging for a membership to receive the vaccines. The company initially asked for 2,000 doses.

The company denies the allegations.

“You don’t need to be an existing member of One Medical, and no payment is necessary in order to get vaccinated,” a company statement reads.

As for the eligibility line-jumping, a company spokesman denies these as well, pinning much of the blame on media coverage.

“Any assertions that we broadly and knowingly disregard eligibility guidelines are in direct contradiction to our actual approach to vaccine administration,” wrote Andrew Diamond, chief medical officer for One Medical. “We have numerous checkpoints in place — online at the time of appointment booking, prior to the appointment via a labor-intensive ‘schedule scanning’ process, and in-person verification at the point of care as needed — to mitigate abuse of our vaccine booking system. We routinely turn people away who do not meet eligibility criteria.

“Our data currently shows nationally 96% of individuals vaccinated by One Medical have eligibility documentation and the remaining 4% generally were vaccinated in accordance with zero wastage protocols.”

Workman said these complaints were reported to the California Department of Public Health and the county has no plan at this time to resume providing vaccines with One Medical. Other jurisdictions around the country have also ceased COVID-19 vaccine distribution with the company.

Copyright 2021 City News Service, Inc.

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