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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Oct. 25, 2019. (AP/Vucci) White House senior adviser Jared Kushner boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Oct. 25, 2019. (AP/Vucci)

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Oct. 25, 2019. (AP/Vucci)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy March 23, 2020

What a Kushner-linked company has to do with coronavirus testing

If Your Time is short

  • Oscar Health does have ties to the Kushner family through Jared Kushner and more directly through Jared’s brother, Joshua Kushner.

  • Oscar Health created a website for finding coronavirus testing locations. The project was launched on the same day that Trump announced a similar partnership with Google.

  • There’s no proof that Oscar Health was specifically “tapped” by Trump to create its website.

A health care startup linked to the family of Jared Kushner recently launched a website to help Americans assess their symptoms for the novel coronavirus and locate nearby testing centers.

The timing of Oscar Health’s testing locator coincided with President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of a partnership with Google to build a similar website for the Bay Area.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that a rumor circulating on social media claims that Trump "tapped" his son-in-law’s company for a testing-related project.

"So Oscar Health, the company tapped by Trump to profit from COVID tests, is a Kushner company," the March 15 Facebook post says. "Imagine that, profits over national safety."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The company does have a Kushner-family connection, and Jared Kushner has played a role in the White House’s coronavirus response efforts. But the Facebook post goes slightly too far in claiming that Trump "tapped" Oscar Health to profit from COVID-19 testing. 

What’s Jared Kushner’s connection to Oscar Health?

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is connected to Oscar Health through his brother Joshua, a co-founder and investor in the health insurance start-up.

Mother Jones reported that a 2013 report from the New York State Department of Financial Services showed Jared Kushner was also a big player in Oscar early on.

The state report showed that, as of 2013, Oscar’s parent corporation was partly owned by Thrive Capital Partners III LP, which in turn was owned by Thrive Partners III GP LLC. The report listed both Jared and Joshua Kushner as owners of Thrive.

"Jared Kushner and Joshua Kushner are deemed the ultimate controlling persons in Oscar’s holding company system," the government report said.

Mother Jones also identified a 2018 New York State Department of Financial Services report, which said that as of December 2015, Joshua Kushner was "the ultimate controlling person."

Public financial disclosure forms for Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, show that the couple owned and received capital gains from shares of Thrive in 2017 and 2018 but divested from Thrive-associated funds in 2017. Their 2019 disclosures show no earnings from Thrive. 

Jared Kushner did seek advice from Joshua Kushner’s father-in-law, a physician, when helping to craft the White House’s coronavirus response, according to the New York Times.

Is Oscar Health making profits from COVID-19 tests?

It’s too soon to tell how much Oscar Health could profit off the coronavirus crisis. As an insurer, the company is not manufacturing or conducting tests, as far as we could tell. 

Oscar Health did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But we were able to complete Oscar’s risk assessment free of charge, and the page for locating testing centers said "the cost of COVID-19 testing for Oscar members at any facility is $0."

Featured Fact-check

On March 18, Trump signed into law a relief package that makes coronavirus tests — and health care provider visits that result in the ordering of coronavirus tests — free for patients.

It’s possible that Oscar could still charge customers for health services associated with seeking a coronavirus test when a test isn’t ultimately produced, however.

Did Trump "tap" Oscar Health to help with testing?

We found no evidence that Trump formally tasked Oscar Health with helping to ramp up testing for the coronavirus, or that the company’s testing website was created at the White House’s request. (The White House declined to comment on the record.)

Business Insider reported that the company agreed to share the code it used to power its online portal for free with the HHS Department, which is building a similar website.

"Last week, the Oscar team built a COVID-19 risk assessment and testing center locator for our members," a spokeswoman for Oscar told Business Insider. "The U.S government asked if we could share our code so that they could customize it for the website they are developing."

HHS reached out to Oscar about the code on March 13, according to Business Insider. That’s the same day that Oscar rolled out its online portal in a press release. It’s also the same day that Trump announced a partnership with Google to build a similar website.

That timing likely fueled speculation on social media about an improper link between Oscar Health’s project and the White House’s broader testing efforts. 

As the Verge reported, a diagram that the White House displayed during a press briefing that day resembled the step-by-step description Oscar Health gave in its press release.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus at the White House on March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Vucci)

But in reference to the diagram shown at the March 13 White House press conference, a White House spokesperson told Mother Jones that "Oscar had no involvement in this."

HHS referred us to the White House without comment.

Our ruling

A Facebook post says: "So Oscar Health, the company tapped by Trump to profit from covid tests, is a Kushner company. Imagine that, profits over national safety."

The Kushner family is connected to Oscar Health, a health insurance company that recently launched a website to help locate nearby testing centers for the novel coronavirus. 

Business Insider reported that Oscar Health shared the code it developed with HHS after it made its online portal public. But we found no evidence that Trump formally designated the company to help with the White House’s COVID-19 testing efforts.

We rate this post Half True.

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 15, 2020

Business Insider, "The Trump administration is working with the healthcare startup founded by Jared Kushner's brother to power a coronavirus tool," March 19, 2020

Time, "COVID-19 Testing Is Supposed to Be Free. Here's Why You Might Still Get Billed," March 20, 2020

The New York Times, "Coronavirus Tests Are Now Free, but Treatment Could Still Cost You," March 19, 2020

Congress.gov, "H.R.6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act," March 18, 2020

Mother Jones, "Jared Kushner Once Controlled a Firm Now Running a Coronavirus Testing Website," March 17, 2020

Snopes, "Does Jared Kushner’s Brother Own a Company Involved in COVID-19 Testing?" March 16, 2020

The Washington Post, "Trump announced Google was building a virus screening tool. Then someone had to build it," March 16, 2020

The Verge, "Trump’s Google testing announcement mixed up several real projects," March 15, 2020

Oscar Health, "Oscar Launches First Testing Center Locator for COVID-19," March 13, 2020

The White House, "Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Conference," March 13, 2020 

The New York Times, "Seeking Advice on the Coronavirus, Jared Kushner Enlists a Doctor in the Family," March 13, 2020

New York State Department of Financial Services, "Report on Examination of Oscar Insurance Corporation as of Dec. 31, 2015," Jan. 31, 2018

CNN, "Jared Kushner is still selling off his business assets," May 8, 2017

Politico, "Kushner to resign from exec posts, divest sizable assets," Jan. 9, 2017

U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Certificates of Divestiture for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Jan. 6, 2017

New York State Department of Financial Services, "Report on Examination of Oscar Insurance Corporation as of June 25, 2013," July 5, 2013

Financial disclosure forms for Ivanka Trump, 2017, 2018 and 2019

Financial disclosure forms for Jared Kushner, 2017, 2018, 2019

PolitiFact, "Trump inflates Google coronavirus website, Mnuchin recasts what Trump said on European cargo," March 15, 2020

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