Every Child By Two asks you to join in urging Congress to protect crucial funding for immunization programs. Politics aside, if and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed, nearly $600 million in funds that currently support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and subsequently state immunization activities will be eliminated.
To ensure that legislators reallocate these funds, we ask you to add your name to Every Child By Two’s Vaccine Funding Support Statement.
In essence, Congressional funding for immunizations supports a vast web of activities, technology and personnel to keep vaccine preventable diseases at bay.
It supports essential activities such as:
- community outreach,
- disease surveillance,
- outbreak control,
- provider and public education,
- immunization registries,
- immunization service delivery,
- staffing and implementation of the Vaccines For Children (VFC) Program (which provides free vaccines to those who qualify under a separate funding stream).
Historically, federal vaccine funding was allocated by Congress via what was called the “Section 317 line item” which is now being referred to as the “Immunization line item”. These vaccine funds are appropriated to the CDC and used to support CDC activities and immunization programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five major cities and eight territories.
However, since 2010, the vaccine funding that was allocated under Section 317 has slowly been supplanted by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF).
While the PPHF had initially supported various programs, above and beyond those that had previously been supported with 317 vaccine funding, today, more than half of immunization programmatic funding comes from PPHF. As displayed in the chart at right, PPHF now accounts for $600 million of the federal funds devoted to immunizations, including over $402 million supporting core immunization activities.
As we prepare for the imminent repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we must ensure legislators take appropriate action to provide a continued and sustained investment into immunization programs.
Political concerns aside, the focus here is not whether ACA should or should not be repealed. The focus is on preserving the funding for immunization programs.
While Congress debates the replacement package for ACA, it would be very easy for vaccines to get overlooked amidst many different healthcare priorities. However, if ACA is repealed without an intentional replacement of Prevention Funds back to the Section 317/Immunization program line, the results could be catastrophic to the nation’s immunization programs.
Health programs would be impacted by:
- a minimum 45% cut in program dollars,
- massive public health layoffs,
- a massive reduction in state efforts to respond to food borne outbreaks,
- a massive interruption to efforts to prevent emerging infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika,
- a diminished ability to provide an adequate health response to natural and handmade disasters,
- the elimination of targeted health programs such as those that seek to eliminate Hepatitis b among infants, combat cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), and support adult vaccine initiatives.
Claire Hannan, Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) states that
“Prevention and Public Health Funds are used as the cornerstone of public health emergency response activities. Without reallocation of those monies, immunization programs throughout the nation will not have the capacity to plan for and respond to emerging virus and disease threats.”
[For a more detailed report from AIM on the potential impact of the elimination of PPHF Funds click here.]
If we want to ensure that the CDC, state and local health departments receive the funding they need to keep our communities safe from deadly but preventable diseases, then take action now. This is not a debate about the merits of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but rather a request that Congress not forget vaccines during the current and future fiscal year funding deliberations. Keeping our communities healthy is everyone’s responsibility.
Click here to sign the following the Vaccine Funding Support Statement requesting that Congress preserve immunization funding as they work to negotiate the repeal and replacement of the ACA:
Dear Congressional Leaders:
Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements in health, saving millions of lives worldwide as well as trillions of dollars in costs to this country. Over $600 million of Prevention and Public Health Funds (PPHF) have been invested in immunization, including nearly $402 million supporting core immunization activities. At this time nearly 45% of immunization funding comes from PPHF and a cut in this funding source will cripple the nation’s ability to keep vaccine preventable diseases at bay. As you negotiate the replacement of the Affordable Care Act, we urge you to ensure that the funding for vaccine programs that is currently allocated through the Prevention and Public Health Fund is maintained. (http://tinyurl.com/SaveVaccineFunding)
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.
No 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. Read more…