James Clyburn MP pictured last October chairs the House Select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, which is launching its own investigation into One Medical’s vaccination practices. Michael A. McCoy / Pool / Getty Images Hide caption
Michael A. McCoy / Pool / Getty Images
Michael A. McCoy / Pool / Getty Images
The ramifications for concierge healthcare provider One Medical are worsening following an NPR investigation that found the company administered COVID-19 vaccinations to those with links to the leadership as well as to ineligible patients.
The House Select Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee is launching its own investigation into the San Francisco-based company’s business practices, NPR has learned. The investigation has put the publicly traded company, whose business model relies on patients paying an annual fee of $ 199 for VIP health services, into damage control mode.
“Although One Medical has been warned that the company’s lax oversight of vaccine approval rules allowed unapproved patients to cross the line, it has reportedly failed to implement an effective approval review protocol, and the Staff instructed not to monitor police authority, “wrote James Clyburn, chairman of the subcommittee, in a letter to One Medical late Monday night.
Clyburn cited several news reports, including NPR’s investigation to denounce One Medical’s “irresponsible practices”, adding that “prioritizing vaccinating Americans at higher risk from the coronavirus for saving lives.” and fighting the pandemic is vital “.
The letter requests documents and information on COVID-19 vaccination practices from One Medical within two weeks with a deadline of March 15. Among other things, demographic breakdowns of the COVID-19 vaccines administered to date and notifications of the vaccination dates agreed for them are sought in the vicinity of the company’s managers.
One Medical responded to news of the investigation overnight: “We continue to strive to devote our time and resources to equitable and accessible care for the communities we serve and are confident that we can resolve these misunderstandings.”
At the start of the Congressional investigation, numerous local health departments stopped working with One Medical due to investigations found that the vaccination line had been skipped. Additional individual reports on ineligible vaccinations were submitted to NPR from different cities.
After reviewing internal communications, NPR identified several cases in multiple states of medical personnel working for One Medical raising alarms about inappropriate procedures and lax monitoring of licensing requirements. “We don’t monitor,” a top One Medical employee told doctors and other medical providers after they raised concerns. One Medical claims that it does not knowingly allow ineligible patients to be vaccinated.
Regulators have moved quickly. NPR contacted each jurisdiction in which One Medical has a location. At least eight local health ministries that have worked with One Medical on COVID-19 vaccinations have suspended the allocation of doses to the company or said they have no plans to provide any in the future. Santa Clara County, for example, said it has no plans to go back to work with One Medical on the COVID-19 vaccination.
The San Francisco County Department of Health, where One Medical is based, not only suspended the additional doses of the vaccine for One Medical, but also reclaimed 1,620 doses from the company in a remarkable move. San Mateo County found that One Medical vaccinated 70 people who were not eligible for the vaccine and stopped working with the company, said Preston Merchant, a county spokesman.
Jurisdictions such as Washington state and numerous counties in the Bay Area have stopped working with One Medical to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. Marin County spokeswoman Laine Hendricks said the county stopped assigning vaccines to One Medical after reviewing data on the company’s vaccinations. “We have indefinitely suspended further allocations of the first dose,” said Hendricks. “We have also removed One Medical from our website.”
Spokesman Michael Workman said San Diego County stopped supplying the company with the vaccine after “numerous complaints about membership fees for access to vaccine appointments. We reported this to the state.”
A doctor has said that some of these objections from the local health departments are misunderstandings and that he has worked to address all of the other concerns raised. In some cases, the company said, they were unaware that they had been cut off from counties until the press reported it. “We are deeply disappointed that many of the media reports about One Medical’s position in the health departments do not reflect our direct communication with our contacts in many of those departments,” said a company spokesman.
A doctor alleged that the COVID-19 vaccinations were given to ineligible patients in San Mateo “to avoid spoilage” and that they “were not aware of any unresolved issues with the San Diego Department of Health prior to their statement to the media . “” In San Francisco County, where the Department of Health said it had reason to believe that One Medical vaccinated ineligible patients, One Medical disagreed with the county, saying the county only reclaimed COVID-19 vaccinations, because One Medical’s “vaccination clinics” were out of service regions that the DPH currently considers the top priority. “
One Medical also said there were no known cases of “executives … intervening personally to induce friends, family or business associates to get vaccinations outside of the licensing requirements.”
Separately, there is also evidence that One Medical is seeking commercial benefit by collecting data from non-members who are being vaccinated. In Washington, DC, neighborhood blog PoPville first raised concerns that those who signed up for a vaccination site operated by DC Health in partnership with One Medical had received a free trial membership to the concierge healthcare provider.
“There is very little clarity on the actual website. Instead, they make it seem like you need one [One Medical] Account or your appointment is canceled, “said Adam Peck, a DC resident who tried to navigate the system last week.” Needless to say, this created a lot of confusion and more than a few people sign up [an account with] OM thinks this is the only one [way] to confirm their appointments. “
I got an app because I had bad asthma since childhood; In DC, the arena that One Medical runs has the most open dates I could find. Interestingly, you will be asked to get a free trial from One Medical and sign up for the vaccine app on their website
– Kyle Chayka (@chaykak) February 26, 2021
This is one of the areas of the congressional probe. Chairman Clyburn wrote that he was concerned that One Medical “could use the federally funded vaccine rollout to increase membership rates and generate fees regardless of whether or not potential members who pay the fees actually qualify for the vaccination are”.
A spokesperson for One Medical said that patients are being asked to register on the company’s platform to create a unique patient record, similar to filling out paperwork in a doctor’s office. “We are not asking people to pay for One Medical membership or sign up for a One Medical account and then convert to annual membership. The main focus is on a seamless care experience, NOT people conversion Members paid in annual dues, “said the spokesman. “Even so, we treat each and every one of our vaccinated patients like any other patient new to One Medical by sharing information about our practice and the benefits of our membership model so that they can get all the benefits if they choose.” “”
One Medical has refused to acknowledge that there is or has been a problem with its COVID-19 vaccination procedures. Part of the base is demoralized by this response.
“There is a consensus that what everyone has seen with their own eyes or read by colleagues is in direct contrast to what OM leadership is now saying,” a One Medical official told NPR. “People found it demoralizing and frustrating that they don’t own the flaws and instead … make excuses and point the finger (from blaming DPHs to our patients).”
In an interview with NPR last week, One Medical’s chief medical officer Andrew Diamond made a number of allegations and then went back when facts were presented to him. When asked if he was banned from being assigned vaccines in Alameda County, he said, “We are still receiving vaccines from Alameda County.”
Alameda County previously told NPR that it had stopped allocating vaccines to One Medical following a delivery in January after the company told the county it had plans to vaccinate patients who were not eligible at the time receive. When Diamond was informed, he stepped back from his previous testimony that they would continue to receive the vaccine from the county.
MAK: You told me that the allocation has not yet been completed.
DIAMOND: “We absolutely understand that we have not received a notice … to indicate that you do not intend to fulfill future assignments.”
Diamond later said, “There was no instruction [to our staff] that is, “don’t check.” This would be contrary to our principles. “When NPR learned that internal staff had received internal communications indicating that medical staff had been instructed not to review the eligibility requirements, Diamond replied,” This is clearly neither the guidance nor the intent of the guidance. But we’ve been much clearer since then. “
A medical CEO, Amir Dan Rubin, did not apologize when asked about the situation on a call to investors. He did not specifically address the allegations or describe how he could fix these issues. “In relation to the stories, we strongly refute these gross miscarriage of characterizations. Any allegations that we are largely and knowingly disregarding the eligibility guidelines are false and contradict our actual approach,” he said.