UPDATE: March 5, 2021: Following the launch of the congressional probe, One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin in a statement issued Wednesday said the primary care network has tightened its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility process, including in-person verification at all vaccination sites and additional guardrails in its online booking platform, and will also do more to clarify vaccine appointments are free.
"We have heard your concerns over the past week in light of media coverage regarding our approach to COVID-19 vaccine administration," Dan Rubin said. "We are not perfect and the work we are doing is challenging, but we remain committed to taking a hard look at our efforts and finding ways to continuously improve."
- High-end primary care provider One Medical's coronavirus vaccine distribution practices have sparked a congressional investigation from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. One Medical is accused of administering the scarce vaccines to the young and healthy and those connected to company leadership.
- "Public reporting raises questions about the reason for these practices, which apparently continued despite repeated warnings from company employees," panel chairman Jim Clyburn. D-S.C., said in a letter to the company late last night, first reported by NPR. "These reports raise concerns that the company may be exploiting the federally funded vaccine rollout to increase membership rates and generate fees, regardless of whether prospective fee-paying members are actually eligible for vaccination."
- One Medical did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication, but has previously defended its practices and denied any wrongdoing.
Following staff in several states raising the alarm about lax oversight and inappropriate vaccine allocation, One Medical has pushed back on allegations it gave the coronavirus vaccine to ineligible patients and said it complied with all known public health guidelines.
"We strongly refute these gross mischaracterizations," One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin said on a call with investors Thursday. "Any assertions that we broadly and knowingly disregard eligibility guidelines are not true and in contradiction to our actual approach."
Following the reports, numerous state departments of health have cut ties with One Medical, halting additional doses and in one case asking for them back. Washington state halted vaccine distribution to the provider, as did a number of Bay Area counties, while the San Francisco Department of Public Health sent a letter directing One Medical to return 1,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Now Congress is stepping in. The letter sent to One Medical late last night seeks documents and information on the chain's vaccination processes by March 15, including demographic breakdowns of shots distributed to date and information on any immunization appointments for patients with a relationship to One Medical executives.
One Medical management has previously chalked any line-skipping up to misunderstandings or patients misrepresenting their own eligibility.
"In terms of eligibility checking, we have numerous checkpoints in place, including online, at the time of appointment booking, prior to appointment via a schedule scanning process that we do and in-person verification at the point of care," Dan Rubin said. "However, it is still possible that some people either misrepresented themselves, abused our trust or booked outside the specific eligibility criteria for their county."
Another area of the newly launched probe is digging into concerns One Medical may be exploiting the distribution process to find new members and sources of revenue, Clyburn said. One Medical, which runs a vaccination site in Washington, D.C. in tandem with DC Health, has faced criticism that its sign-up process is confusing, causing some patients to think they had to pay a membership fee to confirm their appointment.
One Medical customers pay a $199 annual fee for concierge healthcare, including online access to appointment scheduling, telehealth visits and more. The primary care company in fourth quarter and full-year financial results released last week reported strong growth during the coronavirus pandemic, though it is not yet profitable.
One Medical reported revenue of $380.2 million in 2020, up 38% from 2019. By the end of 2020, the 10-state network had 549,000 members, up from just 422,000 a year prior.