A United States congressional subcommittee has found that San Francisco health care company One Medical gave priority treatment to so-called VIPs last year when it began administering Covid vaccines.
The San Francisco Examiner reports the company used their access to the vaccines for business and personal reasons, resulting in the diverting of “scarce doses away from vulnerable seniors, health care providers, and other front-line workers.”
In late 2020, One Medical, a $3.3 billion healthcare company that allows its members to book appointments online, started collaborating with public health departments to distribute coronavirus vaccine doses to its patients and the general public. The company worked with departments in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
The House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis issued a statement claiming One Medical’s conduct “raises serious questions about the company’s stewardship of vaccines” in San Francisco and elsewhere. Democrat Representative Maxine Waters of Los Angeles is the only Californian on the 12-person subcommittee, which examines the broad response to COVID-19.2021.12.21.Staff Memo re Investigation of One Medical_0
The subcommittee alleged that the company solicited credit card information from San Franciscans signing up for free shots and tried to sign up new members, to “maximize revenue rather than free vaccinations.”
Additionally, the memo explained:
“Many health care providers — including but not limited to One Medical — took advantage of access to coronavirus vaccines to benefit their own business and personal interests.”
On January 8, the San Francisco Department of Public Health wrote to One Medical to report that the company’s website was “asking for credit card info” following a complaint from a medical practitioner claiming she couldn’t register for a vaccination appointment without submitting payment information.
The subcommittee also discovered that the company permitted San Francisco patients to self testify to their credentials, which allowed them to be vaccinated along with health care workers and elderly patients.
Last winter, a One Medical nurse practitioner in San Francisco wrote she was having trouble vaccinating her vulnerable parents because the company was prioritizing unqualified patients above health care employees and at-risk groups. However, One Medical has denied the accusations, saying the memo was based on “cherry-picked snippets taken out of context” and “grossly one-sided.”
A representative for One Medical told the Examiner, “Despite the report’s insinuations to the contrary, after months of investigation by the subcommittee, they did not find a single case where any individual was placed at the front of the line to the detriment of another person. If scheduling assistance was provided, it was done so for eligible people and by using the same scheduling tools the company was using to book appointments for thousands of other individuals.”
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