coronavirus

‘Not Acceptable’: Gov. Calls Out Hospital in Hialeah Charging for Coronavirus Tests

Larkin Community Hospital opened up testing to the public on March 20 and said they were charging $150 per test

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he's asked for a price gouging investigation into a hospital in Hialeah that was charging for coronavirus tests.

Larkin Community Hospital opened up testing to the public on March 20 and said they were charging $150 per test. The president of the hospital had previously defended the decision even though some had expressed concern over the price.

At a news conference Friday, DeSantis expressed his own concerns.

"Many of these are low-income individuals, and I just want to say that is not acceptable here in the state of Florida," DeSantis said. "The tests are free and we don't want to put individuals in any more difficult circumstances than they already are."

Officials said Larkin is performing about 500 tests per day, and Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said the private hospital, which isn't run by the City of Hialeah, was working hard to obtain federal and state funding to provide the tests at no cost to their residents.

Hours after DeSantis spoke, the head of the hospital, Dr. Jack Michel, posted a GoFundMe page link in his attempt to raise money for the uninsured who can't afford the tests.

NBC 6 spoke Friday afternoon with Michel, who didn't address what DeSantis said or the cost of the tests. He did say the lab company doing the testing found more than 125 positive cases of people who would have spread the virus if not detected.

"As a private laboratory we incurred all the expenses of equipment, processing and personnel to establish our Drive Thru at Palm Springs Campus. As a result we charge a fee of $150 to our clients who want to use this service. The same price we charge the City of Hialeah, Federal prisons, and other employers," Michel said in a statement Friday. "We greatly increased the availability of coronavirus testing in Miami-Dade County as everyone continues to work together to battle the continuing global pandemic."

"There always seems to be people who want to use the unfortunate circumstances that someone find themselves in for their own personal gain or business gain. Unfortunately we’re seeing that here with this virus," DeSantis said.

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