Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Affordable Care Act
The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling today on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The Justices ruled that the individual mandate — the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance – is constitutional. Without a doubt there is much to consume in the several hundred page decision, including the decision on whether states can be forced to expand Medicaid. What seems clear however is that the individual mandate will be allowable as a tax on citizens.
Vaccination coverage was explicitly addressed in the statute; requiring all health insurers to provide all ACIP recommended vaccinations with no co-payments or other cost sharing requirements (deductibles) when the vaccines are provided by an in-network provider. Health advocates have been preparing for the full implementation of these provisions, including an anticipated reduction in the number of plans “grandfathered” out of the requirements until they make “significant changes” to their plans. Today’s decision directly impacts the manner in which Americans of all ages will attain and pay for vaccinations into the future.
The President’s 2013 budget request to Congress for funding to the CDC for immunization programs nationwide, known as the Section 317 Immunization Program, was based on the assumption that the Affordable Care Act would remain intact. On June 14th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2013 Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations bill at $157.7 billion, approximately $1.4 billion above the FY 2012 bill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the agency through which the Section 317 Immunization Program is funded, has an overall funding level of $6.9 billion. This level is a $55 million increase over the FY 2012 level and a $277 million increase over the President’s Budget Request. Compared to FY 2012, the Senate bill provides level funding for the Section 317 Immunization Program at $620 million, an increase of $58 million (10%) over the President’s Budget Request.
Immunization advocates, including the 317 Coalition seek an appropriation of $720 million. With the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, members of the House and Senate must now come to the table to sort out how this nation will finance vaccination programs throughout the nation. Stay tuned…