Federal government to pay for future virus vaccines for Americans

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it wants to ensure 'broad vaccine access and coverage.'

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When a coronavirus vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be safely delivered to Americans, the costs of it will be covered by the government. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it will pay for any authorized and approved COVID-19 vaccine to ensure “broad vaccine access and coverage for all Americans.” 

A nurse administers a flu vaccination shot at a recent free clinic in Lakewood, California. Medical experts hope the flu shot this year will help prevent a “twindemic,” an epidemic of influenza paired with a second wave of COVID-19, which could lead to overwhelmed hospitals. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“There are several vaccines in Phase 3 trials, production and distribution plans are well underway, and CMS is doing its part by laying the essential groundwork for coverage and payment when a vaccine does arise,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a briefing Wednesday. “It’ll be widely available and accessible to seniors and every American.”

Verma estimated that if “literally every senior got immunized,” it would cost “likely around $2.6 billion — that’s if everybody got vaccinated in the Medicare program.”

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The agency also announced it will cover a larger portion of new treatments for coronavirus patients who are on Medicare. 

The federal government is paying for the research and development of a vaccine, but the costs of administering it would fall under the scope of insurance companies. 

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The vaccine will be covered by Medicare recipients under their Part B coverage, which pays for routine and preventative services such as doctor visits and lab tests. 

The new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule requires most private health insurance plans to provide — at no cost to their members — both in-network and out-of-network coverage for the vaccine. 

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Pharmaceutical giant Moderna announced Thursday it is preparing to launch its vaccine and has already secured $1.1 billion in deposits from governments. The company has completed enrollment for its 30,000-participant late-stage trial. 

According to CNBC, more than 25,650 participants had received the second of the company’s double-dose COVID-19 vaccine. According to Moderna officials, about 37 percent of the participants were from diverse communities, and 42 percent were at high risk of severe disease.

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