Select Subcommittee Releases Findings from Investigation into One Medical’s Administration of Coronavirus Vaccines
Company Manipulated Vaccination Sign-Ups to Grow Membership Base and Prioritized Doses for VIPs, Friends and Family of Executives, and Remote Staff, Contributing to Inequities Rampant in Early Rollout
Washington, D.C. (December 21, 2021) — Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, released a new staff memo detailing evidence from its nine-month investigation into One Medical’s flawed administration of coronavirus vaccines.
Chairman Clyburn issued the following statement in connection with the release of today’s memo:
“Troublingly but unsurprisingly, in the chaos and confusion of the Trump Administration’s mismanaged early vaccine rollout, self-interested vaccine providers like One Medical and its executives sought to take advantage of their possession of scarce doses to advance company interests and pad the bottom line. This unscrupulous conduct prevented these doses from protecting the health and lives of less privileged Americans at high risk from the coronavirus. I commend the local public health officials who stood up to One Medical’s abuse of authority, as well as the Biden Administration for its leadership in transforming America’s vaccination campaign into an effective, efficient, and equitable operation.”
As detailed in the memo, 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, did not adequately monitor patients signing up for and receiving vaccinations to ensure their eligibility under prioritization guidelines, and failed to administer coronavirus vaccines equitably during the early vaccine rollout. This conduct undermined public health priorities and exacerbated the chaos of the early vaccine rollout—diverting scarce doses away from vulnerable seniors, health care providers, and other frontline workers who struggled to get vaccinated in the early months of 2021.
Today’s memo includes the following findings.
One Medical Exploited Access to Coronavirus Vaccines for Financial Gain, Pushing Vaccine Seekers Toward Paid Memberships
- Emails and internal chat messages show that One Medical sought to pad the company’s bottom line by using its access to vaccines to increase memberships for its concierge medical services. A senior One Medical executive said in a December 9, 2020 chat message, “maybe I’m being too opportunistic, but we should be really focused on how to capitalize on this visibility. … how can we take advantage of the vaccine interest to conver [sic] to our other company objectives.” In that conversation, another senior executive suggested that “the only way people can get a vaccine is if they are a member…so we need to make it easy to sign up….and cheap possibly.”
- Many consumers struggled to book vaccination appointments at One Medical without signing up for a paid One Medical membership. One consumer wrote, “I was tricked into a membership with the company … They had an offer that indicated that the fee would be waived as I was referred through the health department. Then that same day they charged me $199 for a membership that I don’t need.” Numerous individuals also may have signed up for paid One Medical memberships in the hope of obtaining early access to vaccines, with a One Medical employee reporting on January 27, 2021: “we are seeing a huge influx of standard paying consumer members, but that might only be signing up to get the vaccine.” Even as the company sought to minimize the use of free trials, One Medical succeeded in convincing at least 399 individuals who initially signed up for free to become paying members.
- Starting in early January 2021, officials from multiple public health departments contacted One Medical following reports that consumers were being asked to provide credit card information at the time of sign-up for free vaccination appointments. An official from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health wrote on January 11, 2021, “It sounds like it’s really easy to get dead ended into having to provide CC [credit card] info. … This is problematic and only serves as a barrier to what we are collectively trying to achieve.” Although One Medical acknowledged public health departments’ concerns and suggested that the company intended to look into these issues, significant confusion persisted among individuals seeking to sign up for free vaccination appointments at One Medical locations during the early months of 2021.
One Medical Provided Early Vaccines to Non-Patient-Facing Employees, Personal and Business Contacts of its Executives, and other “VIPs”
- Documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee show that One Medical used vaccine doses allocated to the company to vaccinate its own employees, including One Medical’s “clubhouse” employees—those in corporate and support functions who do not interact with patients—and employees working remotely ahead of health care workers and first responders. On December 23, 2020, an employee raised concerns about One Medical’s use of the first allotment to One Medical’s Chief Medical Officer Andrew Diamond, stating: “should we ask about the clubhouse? … not sure if that’s ok or not. this clubhouse issue is giving me heartburn – could imagine bad PR[.]” Dr. Diamond responded, “get over it. ”. Internal messages show that One Medical employees were specifically instructed not to discuss the plan to vaccinate all of One Medical’s clubhouse employees by email. As one employee wrote in an internal chat: “we don’t want to put into writing our distribution philosophy in the event it went viral but we need to thread that needle.”
- One Medical enabled ineligible patients to get early access to vaccinations. Numerous One Medical employees raised repeated complaints that ineligible patients were able to sign up for appointments and obtain vaccinations at One Medical locations, with one nurse practitioner noting on January 14, 2021: “[H]ealthcare workers and high risk 77 year olds etc are messaging us asking for the vaccine and they are put on a list. Meanwhile we have ineligible people self booking and using up the appointments before anyone calls the list.” Internal messages show that One Medical’s leadership was slow to act and inconsistent in upholding vaccine eligibility guidelines. One employee wrote about the company’s policy: “[W]e turn nobody away. We aren’t gate keeping.”
- One Medical’s Chief Executive Officer and President, Amir Dan Rubin, and other employees gave personal and business contacts priority access to vaccination appointments. Internal emails and chat messages reveal that in January and February 2021—when access to coronavirus vaccines remained extremely limited—Mr. Rubin tasked subordinates with helping to set up vaccination appointments for VIPs, enterprise clients, other business connections, and his own family members. Although these patients appear to have been eligible under relevant priority guidelines, Mr. Rubin saw to it that they received immediate appointments at One Medical locations. For example, on January 25, 2021, Mr. Rubin asked a One Medical employee: “Can you facilitate getting a COVID vaccination scheduled … [NAME REDACTED] is the [TITLE REDACTED] of [COMPANY NAME REDACTED], one of our enterprise accounts, and is 68 years old?”
One Medical’s Failure to Administer Coronavirus Vaccines Equitably Reflects Broader Struggles to Reach Vulnerable Communities that Plagued the Early Vaccine Rollout
- Internal documents reveal that One Medical employees raised concerns about the company’s failure to ensure that vaccine doses were distributed equitably. For instance, one employee stated on January 22, 2021: “[J]ust want to throw out there that I am really worried about equity issues as OM ramps up on vaccines. … the gaming of the system by tech-savvy health young affluent people that we are seeing are really concerning to me.” Another employee reported that few people of color appeared to be getting vaccination slots at One Medical locations: “I’ve given a lot of vaccines, very few POC, and no black people. That really hit me on Friday and it didn’t feel good.”
- In January and February 2021, officials from multiple state and local public health departments also raised concerns that One Medical was not administering vaccinations in an equitable manner. For instance, officials in Berkeley, California expressed concern to One Medical that vulnerable community members designated by the city to receive vaccinations at One Medical were not able to actually schedule their appointments, writing, “I thought we were clear … all doses sent to OM were to be reserved for people identified by the City of Berkeley. … Given what has transpired I do not have confidence that is happening[.]” One Medical’s willful disregard of proper vaccination prioritization contributed to a delay in vaccination of members of vulnerable communities—leaving them at heightened risk from the coronavirus in the early months of 2021 while vaccines remained in short supply.
Click here to read today’s staff memo.
Click below to read the new documents released today: