WASHINGTON, D.C. – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) spoke with the Columbus Dispatch about his new legislation to ensure more Americans can receive necessary vaccines, including any future COVID-19 vaccine, 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. Representative Darren Soto (D-FL-9) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The Dispatch story can be found here and below:
By: Rick Rouan
November 18, 2020
Sen. Sherrod Brown wants all Medicaid recipients to be able to get a coronavirus vaccine without having to pay out of pocket.
During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Brown said he is introducing a bill that would ensure that those recipients wouldn't be responsible for co-pays on that and other vaccines.
"Too many people face barriers to get the immunizations they need," Brown said.
Pharmaceutical companies appear to be accelerating toward a coronavirus vaccine, with Moderna and Pfizer saying they have a vaccine that is 94.5% and 95% effective, respectively.
Individuals enrolled in expanded Medicaid programs do not pay out-of-pocket for vaccinations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, but according to Brown's office those in traditional Medicaid programs are responsible for some out-of-pocket costs.
Brown said the Helping Adults Protect Immunity Act would make changes so that individuals with both coverages can get the immunizations without paying out of pocket.
Ensuring that those individuals can get the vaccine without financial barriers is critical to controlling the virus, he said.
"A vaccine will only be effective if most people get it," he said.
Brown said several ideas are being kicked Capitol Hill for how to accomplish that and that he is open to other proposals as well.
"It's got to be a national effort," he said. "I don't have any pride of authorship."
The coronavirus pandemic is surging in Ohio, with the state reporting more than 7,000 cases a day as Gov. Mike DeWine's overnight curfew is set to begin on Thursday.
Brown has praised the job that DeWine did during the earliest days of the pandemic, saying his actions saved lives. Asked on Wednesday whether the governor was doing enough to stop the virus now, Brown said: "Nobody is doing enough."
He turned instead to Congress and President Donald Trump, who he said has done too little to stop the virus.
"We need to work on getting the vaccine to people as quickly as we can but we need to get help from the federal government right now to help with the economic challenges people have," he said.