The Blue Shield of California will set up an algorithm to determine where COVID-19 vaccines should be delivered anywhere with the goal of being able to administer 3 million shots a week by March 1, according to a contract announced Monday which gives the insurance giant far-reaching powers to oversee the state’s distribution of doses.
The company will try to drastically upscale the number of daily doses, but this goal largely depends on the delivery sent to the state. California received just over 1 million vaccine doses last week from the federal government.
Blue Shield, which has a significant influence on state policy, will immediately work to centralize the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program after a slow start due to a lack of available doses, complex rules that dictate which Californians should be prioritized, and problems with data reporting.
The contract states that Blue Shield’s algorithm will prioritize vaccine distribution with “equity focus” throughout the state and will be updated based on vaccine availability and COVID-19 pricing. Few other details about the algorithm were available Monday.
Under the contract, Blue Shield also has the breadth to choose which health care providers and counties will continue to receive and administer doses in California as part of a vaccine network.
“We are changing a process midstream and my hope is that this will become easier and not more bureaucratic and difficult for clinics in my community to serve their client populations,” LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said in an interview Monday. “This is not the solution that LA County needs. LA County needs more vaccine and flexibility to distribute it more fairly. ”
State decision to put Blue shield at the helm removes key vaccine administration decisions from counties, and California’s vaccination efforts are beginning to pick up speed. More than 6 million doses have been administered in the state, where California now has an average of one million vaccines a week, Gavin Newsom said in a tweet Monday.
Kaiser Permanente, which provides health care to more than 9 million Californians, is expected to sign a separate contract with the state to run a vaccination program for its members, while overseeing two or more mass vaccination sites and helping vaccinate “hard-to-reach and disproportionate” impacts on the population, ”according to a letter of intent released on January 29.
Both companies have agreed that they will run the programs at or near the price and “will not make money” according to the letter of intent. Blue Shield’s contract stipulates that the company may not invoice the state for more than $ 15 million during the contract period for out-of-pocket costs.
Newsom, who was criticized for the state’s slow rollout, said the arrangement with Blue Shield and Kaiser will ensure that vaccines are administered faster and more fairly, while improving the reliability of data that has been problematic so far. But some county officials say the process has been slowed by a lack of vaccines and have noted that state data has not accurately demonstrated their progress in administering shots.
“This is a supply problem, not a logistics problem,” said Buddy Mendes, a member of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and a vice president of Urban Counties in California. “Give us the doses, that’s all we ask for. We get them in people’s arms. ”
The Urban Counties of California wrote to Newsom on Feb. 3 to “raise serious concerns” over the deal with Blue Shield and question why the state would bring the company in so late in the process after counties spent significant amounts of money lifting on vaccine distribution. The agreement with Blue Shield, the group wrote, could create confusion in the supply chain and disrupt the systems created by local governments.
“Our main concern is to ensure that we have adequate vaccines to cover appointments at our major vaccination sites,” the letter said.
Ventura County officials asked the state for the possibility of being excluded from the Blue Shield agreement, saying its own vaccination program was limited only by a lack of available doses. Officials said Ventura County could increase its ability to administer 8,000 doses a day if given a sufficient amount of vaccine. Letting Blue Shield determine how many doses a county receives puts those efforts in limbo, the county wrote. The contract, released Monday, did not allow counties to opt out.
“All of this capability and capacity would stop if the vaccine supply was diverted or reduced,” wrote Linda Parks, chair of the supervisory board, and Michael Powers, the county’s chief executive.
The contract creates a vaccine network in three “geographical waves”, although the areas and timelines for this plan were not included in the contract. Sources provided The Times with a preliminary timeline confirmed by the California Department of Public Health, with Central Valley counties such as Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin and Stanislaus in the first wave beginning Feb. 21.
Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura are among the counties in the second wave, which begins March 7th. One week later, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda counties are among those that would begin joining the vaccine provider’s network.
Newsom approved the agreement with Blue Shield and Kaiser under an emergency contract that does not require regulatory approval. The governor announced the deal late last month, but the contract was not signed until Friday. The terms of the contract run until 31 December.
The announcement that Blue Shield would take a different key role in the state’s pandemic response led to a new round of criticism over the close ties between the company and Newsom.
The Oakland-based company, which serves about 4 million Californians, was leveraged to improve coronavirus testing efforts in April after the catastrophic start of the state, which included lack of test supplies, long waiting times for results and data error.
The company’s CEO, Paul Markovich, served as co-chair of the governor’s test team, while some of the company’s employees also worked on the effort.
Blue Shield is a prominent player in California’s political campaigns, spending more than $ 1 million in support of Newsom’s governor’s campaign in 2018 and nearly $ 1.3 million in lobbying for state government at the most recent legislative meeting. In January 2020, Blue Shield donated $ 20 million to support Newsom’s homelessness program.
Newsom said on February 3 that linking Blue Shield’s support and political influence to the company landing the vaccination contract is “nonsense”.
“Everyone came together and looked at what works, what doesn’t work, and we particularly identified two partners, two nonprofits, Kaiser and Blue Shield,” Newsom said. “… They have the kind of scale, they have capacity, they have the allocation distribution insert we were looking for.”
Times Sacramento office manager John Myers contributed to this report.
More Tags We Lovehow much is temporary auto insurance what is low cost auto insurance do life insurance premiums increase with age are insurance payments tax deductible travel insurance uk including covid which auto insurance company has the best rates best mobile phone insurance company auto insurance in japan which insurance is best in germany is covid covered by insurance in uae