Legislation Would Help Ensure Low-Income Communities, Communities of Color, and Vulnerable Populations Can Get Any Necessary Vaccine
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Biden administration continues to work ahead of schedule to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are getting into the arms of Americans, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced legislation to ensure more Americans can receive all necessary vaccines at no out-of-pocket cost. Brown’s Helping Adults Protect Immunity Act (HAPI) Act would create parity in vaccine coverage between traditional Medicaid and Medicaid expansion programs. The bill would also provide enhanced federal matching funds for states to better reach at-risk and vulnerable patient populations.
“When some Americans aren’t able to get the vaccines they need, it doesn’t just hurt them – it hurts the whole community,” said Brown. “The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been working far ahead of schedule, but we still need legislation like the HAPI Act to ensure that at-risk populations can get all other vaccines quickly and easily, with no out-of-pocket cost.”
Adults need immunizations to protect them from contracting and spreading serious infectious diseases that can result in disability, missed work, medical bills, inability to care for family members, hospitalization, or even death.
Currently, those enrolled in traditional Medicaid face varying out-of-pocket costs and can be forced to pay for vaccines, while those enrolled in Medicaid through the expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pay $0 in out-of-pocket costs for vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This lack of consistency and the resulting barriers to access impede efforts to improve vaccination rates among at-risk populations.
Vaccine effectiveness will be determined in part by how many Ohioans get vaccinated, and the HAPI Act would also give states funding to enhance reimbursement rates to the health care providers who will be responsible for vaccinating many of the most at-risk and hardest-to-reach populations.