Home > In the News, Policy > The Affordable Care Act and Its Impact on Immunizations

The Affordable Care Act and Its Impact on Immunizations

October 1, 2013

The past 24 hours has been a whirlwind of uncertainty and stress for many Americans.  Friends on Facebook and Twitter have been expressing their collective displeasure with our Congressional leaders following the announcement that the government would be shut down due to a lapse in appropriations for fiscal year 2014.  The news has been sharing lists of government services that are no longer available.  And my inbox has been flooded with emails from furloughed employees explaining their absence.

capitolNo matter what your opinions are regarding the Affordable Care Act, and the Congress’s inability to resolve their differences, it’s important that we consider how these political developments will impact the immunization efforts in this country.    One of the most pressing concerns in the fight against preventable diseases has been to ensure that adults and children aren’t missing immunizations due to cost concerns.  While most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines, each provider has different policies and copayments and people who remain uninsured or underinsured are often under immunized.

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program, created in the early 90’s, is intended to provide immunizations to children whose parents or guardians are unable to afford them.   Known as section 1928 of the Social Security Act, the VFC program ensures that vaccines which are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are available at no cost to eligible children, age 18 and younger.  Each year the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approves the funding amounts needed for the VFC vaccine purchases and the funds are then allocated through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) then utilizes the funds to purchase vaccines at a federal discount and distribute them to state health departments and local public health agencies.  These agencies then distribute the vaccines at no charge to private physicians’ offices and public health clinics that are registered as VFC providers.

While the VFC program helps ensure that children are fully vaccinated, the only program that currently applies to adults is intended for Medicare beneficiaries who are 65 years of age and older.  This demographic currently qualifies for a Medicare payment that covers part, or all, of the cost associated with influenza (flu), pneumococcal (pneumonia) and hepatitis B vaccines.

Since today begins the open enrollment period for all new health plans offered through the Affordable Care Act, we can see that the new plans will go one step further in offering no-cost immunizations.  All new health plans will now be required to cover ACIP recommended vaccines for adults and children of all ages, without charging a deductible, copayment or coinsurance.  These vaccines, to include a seasonal flu vaccine, will be provided at no cost as long as they are administered by an “in-network” provider.

While the Affordable Care Act is expected to expand access to preventive care, and in turn improve health outcomes, it remains to be seen how many people will utilize the Health Insurance Marketplace made available for the first time today.  To find out more about immunizations covered within the Affordable Care Act, click here.  To visit the marketplace and  compare health insurance options, costs and coverage click here. .

Unfortunately, the inability of our government leaders to negotiate their differences has resulted in a government shutdown today and we will likely see an impact on immunization efforts in this country.  The Department of Health and Human Services issued a contingency plan yesterday that addresses how they plan to operate in the absence of full appropriations.  Unfortunately, services that will be interrupted include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC will continue to protect the health and well-being of citizens, both in the U.S. and abroad, however they will do so through a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center.  The CDC will no longer be able to support the following:

  • annual seasonal influenza program
  • outbreak detection and linking across state boundaries using genetic and molecular analysis
  • continuous updating of disease treatment & prevention recommendations
  • technical assistance, analysis, and support to state and local  partners for infectious disease surveillance.

Fortunately, mandatory funding will support the Vaccines for Children program and allow it to continue despite the government shutdown.

Certainly we can expect a lot of changes and adjustments in the days and weeks ahead.  As immunization policies are impacted by the Affordable Care Act and fiscal budgetary considerations, we will continue to keep you informed.  In the meantime, ensure you are doing your part to reduce the spread of preventable disease and get your flu shot.

  1. Jetcityjewel
    October 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I think SOP needs another post to make it clear that despite the shutdown flu vaccine is still available and the VFC program is not impacted. Unless I am wrong and I missed something in this story. Otherwise people might think they shouldn’t bother trying to get the vaccine for their kids if they need help paying for it.

  2. Acyclovir
    October 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    *its

  3. Christine Vara
    October 3, 2013 at 8:24 am

    @Jetcityjewel: In the second to last paragraph of this blog post we do explain that the VFC program is NOT impacted. However, since it appears that it wasn’t highlighted enough we bolded those words so that there is no further confusion. Thanks for ensuring that people get the message.

    @Acyclovir: That you for identifying a typographical error, which has since been corrected.

  4. jetcityjewel
    October 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Thank you! From the many headlines I’ve seen about this issue many could think they can’t get the flu vax not bothering to read more since many don’t spend as much time and thought on vaccine issues as the readers and commenters of blogs like this.

  5. C4yourself
    October 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Many and/or most vaccines are cultured from aborted human and/or animal fetuses. I would suggest anyone that is asked by their doctor to get a vaccine, to ask the following questions: “Can I please have a copy of the vaccine package insert so I know what is in it?; where do I find out what vat number this vaccine is from and if it is contaminated or not?; do you know what ingredients are in this vaccine? Was this vaccine cultured from an aborted human or animal fetus? Is it a monthly or yearly salary from the drug companies when you remind people to get vaccinations and flu shots? Flu vaccines need to be developed at least one year ahead of time so they can be manufactured; however, anyone with a biology background will tell you that flu viruses from a year ago mutate and if a person gets a flu virus from one year ago, it doesn’t do any good because it’s a different kind of virus from year to year; also, vaccines also contain contaminants of cancer cells and other diseases in them and often contain mercury, aluminum formaldehyde, and dead animal and/or human fetal remains. Why do you think there is such an increase in child cancer at young ages? It’s because of all the vaccines the drug companies and doctors who are paid by them pressure the parents into giving all those vaccines to their kids.
    If that’s not enough, tetanus shots can cause automatic abortions and it is rumored that birth control is put in tetanus shots. With the wealthy elite wanting global depopulation. Babies often die from having multiple vaccines (i.e., SIDS-sudden infant death syndrome). SIDS increases in areas where vaccinations have been mandated. The evidence is that more diseases have been extinguished from simple good hygiene, like washing hands and taking daily showers with clean water, than any vaccine. The people who created vaccines are previous Nazi’s who likewise, created the gas chambers that killed millions of people. http://educate-yourself.org/cn/nurembergcodeswinevaccine10oct09.shtml.
    A little bit of a radical URL but has some realistic info on the subject is… http://www.theywantyoudead.com/
    Some children get more sick from vaccines (cancer, autism, permanent brain damage), than they’d ever get from actual diseases. If parents stopped giving their kids all the soda, cancer producing hot dogs and BBQ steaks, along with loaded down sugary products, kids could return to having a healthy immune system and wouldn’t be getting so sick. People who are pro vaccines (and Affordable health care proponents) can continue to live in la la land and believe all the lies about how wonderful vaccines are. However, I’ve known at least one person personally who won a huge amount of money from a law suit because they were able to prove in court that vaccinations permanently damaged her grandson after there was proof that he was a perfectly healthy young toddler before getting toxic vaccinations prescribed by their physician. (Many physicians get kick backs and salaries from drug companies for making people feel ignorant and guilty if they don’t get vaccines). Try asking your doctor next time for the package vaccine insert the next time your doctor pressures you into getting a shot and see what that so-called “medical professional” says. Gary Null and Sherri Tenpenny, MD, would most likely agree with everything that I have written here, along with other honest doctors who want to protect our children from EVIL intents of the drug companies, Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), CDC, and all the other money-hungry people who make money by making and keeping innocent babies and children sick by over-vaccinating them and over-medicating them.
    eat mung beans, (avoid cheese/milk/beef), eat turkey and organic veggies and fruits, brown rice, and stay away from all soda, get some exercise weekly, use garlic for any silly cough, and you and your kids will be a lot more healthier than getting poisoned from vaccines. See “prescription healing,” by Balsch, MD.

  6. Gray Falcon
    October 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    C4yourself: Any evidence for your accusations? If you’re going to tell me not to trust the government, then give me a reason to trust you.

  7. novalox
    October 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    @c4yourself

    So, any actaul evidence besides conspiracy theory websites for your little rant.

    Because all you have presented here is conspiracy thoery, with very little in terms of actual fact or reality.

  8. Lawrence
    October 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Wow, that screed contains so many falsehoods, I don’t even know where to start……

  9. October 14, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

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