AG Herring calls for ‘equitable access’ to COVID-19 vaccine

Mark Herring_58352

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks to reporters outside the Arlington County Courthouse in Arlington, Va., Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, following a Supreme Court decision rejecting gay marriage appeals from 5 states. The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals from five […]

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark R. Herring joined a coalition of 13 attorneys general in calling for vaccine access to all Americans at no cost.

“It is so important that every single Virginian and every single American has access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available. 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,” said Herring. 

In the letter, Herring and his colleagues are calling on Congress to arrange an interim rule that allows the vaccine to be distributed to Medicare recipients at no cost, to properly fund programs for the uninsured to cover administrative fees and to increase financial support for Medicaid.

“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,” he continued.

The letter outlines three ways for Congress to take action to ensure equitable access to the vaccines:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Vaccine costs are still unknown but the statement released by Herring’s offices says that studies show people covered by Medicaid have lower vaccination rates than those with private health insurance. 

Joining Herring are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington.

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