Written by Brandon Lee Romo
Governor Gavin Newsom awarded Blue Shield of California a no-bid contract to run vaccine distribution in the state, which comes as no surprise as Blue Shield has been a regular donor to the Governor for some time. According to California Healthline, Blue Shield has donated just under $23 million to Newsom’s campaigns over the last 16 years.
Unfortunately, this decision is expected to cost California an extra $2 billion. According to figures released by Newsom’s Department of Finance, California is projected to spend over $15 billion through 2022. California also just agreed to a two-month, $13 million contract with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in order to assist both the state and Blue Shield with vaccine distribution.
“I don’t think having Blue Shield step in is going to get teachers vaccinated any quicker. I don’t think it’s going to get the 70-year-old Black folks vaccinated any quicker. … And they’re not doing it for free,” said Democrat State Senator Sydney Kamlager.
Increasing amounts of public health officials and lawmakers have stated that Blue Shield is by no means the right choice. As stated by the Department of Public Health, just eight counties and one city have signed agreements with Blue Shield. Kern County was the lone county of those eight to sign a contract with Blue Shield directly. The remaining jurisdictions signed a memorandum of understanding with the State of California to take away some of Blue Shield’s authority and divert it back to local public health officials.
Newsom issued a “no bid contract” to Blue Shield, which means that other companies did not even have the opportunity to compete for the job. A competition between companies would have given cities more options that could have resulted in much lower prices. Instead, Newsom gave the job to one of his long term donors at the expense of every California resident. As of now, California is the only state that hired a health insurer to run vaccine distribution. The decision to hire Blue Shield is going to cost Californians, who were never given the opportunity for choice, a lot more money than what it should have.
Photo via Desert Sun