The New York Attorney General is investigating whether or not a health-care clinic within the state fraudulently obtained Covid vaccine doses and distributed them to the general public, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned Monday.
Cuomo declined to supply particulars of the investigation as a result of it's ongoing, however he famous that it includes ParCare Community Health Network, which the state recognized as a supplier in Orange County, New York. ParCare allegedly misrepresented itself to the state's division of well being to acquire vaccine doses, Cuomo mentioned.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker mentioned in a press release launched over the weekend that the clinic could have "diverted [the vaccine] to members of the public — contrary to the state's plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers."
Because doses of the vaccine are in such brief provide, states are rationing the vials out to sure precedence teams earlier than they're made extra broadly accessible.
ParCare mentioned in a press release to CNBC that it’s going to "actively cooperate" with the investigation. A consultant for the clinic added that "Cuomo himself stressed the importance of getting all the facts, and providing the facts to the state is exactly what we have done and will continue to do."
It's among the many first instances of alleged fraud related to Covid vaccines, nevertheless it's unlikely to be the final, Cuomo mentioned, including that fraud involving a beneficial commodity is "almost an inevitable function of human nature."
"We want to send a clear signal to the providers that if you violate the law on these vaccinations, we will find out and you will be prosecuted," Cuomo mentioned Monday at a information briefing. "You're going to see more and more of this. The vaccine is a valuable commodity and you have many people who want the vaccine."
New York State Police have been conducting a felony investigation, Cuomo famous, and can refer the case to New York AG Letitia James, whose workplace didn’t return CNBC's request for remark.
To ship a transparent signal to potential vaccine scofflaws, Cuomo mentioned he’ll signal an government order on Monday delineating the results of defrauding the state in the case of vaccine distribution. He mentioned the state could tremendous violators as much as $1 million and the state will revoke the health-care supplier's license to apply in New York.
"We are very serious about this," he mentioned. "We will find out and it's not worth risking your license, as well as a possible civil and criminal penalty."
Cuomo described the penalties as "the strictest in the nation," including that New York is taking a "hyper-cautious, hyper-vigilant" strategy.
"We have the penalties in place. We have the safeguards in place, but when you're dealing with thousands of people, and hundreds of organizations, and a valuable commodity, expect a level of fraud," Cuomo mentioned. "As sure as night follows day, you're going to have people who defraud the government."
"I understand the value of one vial," he added. "Some of those vials can do 10 vaccines. You could sell that one vial, so I understand the temptation."
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