Herring calls on Congress to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine
A coalition of 13 state attorneys general is urging Congress to allocate funding and codify coverage protections to guarantee that all people living in the United States are able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
Black, Latino, Native American, and senior communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and are also more likely to be on Medicare, Medicaid, or uninsured.
In their letter, the group – which includes Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring – calls on Congress to codify an interim rule providing the vaccine to Medicare recipients at no cost, to properly fund programs for the uninsured to cover administrative fees, and to increase financial support for Medicaid.
“It is so important that every single Virginian and every single American has access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available,” Herring said. “Unfortunately, we have seen this virus disproportionately devastate Black, Brown, and lower-income communities and we must make sure these individuals are able to get these potentially life-saving vaccines. Congress must act to ensure that all Americans, but especially those in more disadvantaged communities, are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccines so they can better protect themselves and their families.”
In their letter, Herring and his colleagues lay out three actions for Congress to take in order to ensure equitable access to the vaccines:
- Congress should codify the recent Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) Interim Final Rule allowing any vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to be covered at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries
- The Provider Relief Fund, which gives uninsured individuals access to the vaccine, must also cover co-pay or out of pocket fees, as well as costs for outreach to uninsured communities
- Congress should provide states with additional financial assistance to supplement the Family First Coronavirus Response Act by ensuring that payment rates to providers are sufficient to allow Medicaid recipients to access the vaccine at no cost and providers to perform outreach to vulnerable communities
The exact costs of the COVID-19 vaccines for patients remain unknown, however, studies have shown that individuals who have coverage through Medicaid have lower vaccination rates than those with private health insurance.