Washington, DC – (Friday, April 15, 2016) – Today, Representatives, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ami Bera, and Michelle Lujan Grisham addressed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reinforce the importance of their efforts to reduce financial barriers to vaccine access in the Medicare Part D program.
CMS released the 2017 Medicare Advantage and Part D Advance Notice and Draft Call Letter on February 19, 2016, which includes proposed updates to Part D plans and plans serving dual-eligible beneficiaries. In the draft, CMS states the need to set cost-sharing at $0 for dedicated vaccine tiers and for Select Care/Select Diabetes Drug tiers that contain vaccine products. CMS encourages Part D sponsors to offer $0 or low cost-sharing for vaccines. Specifically, disparities in coverage have been identified for a number of vaccines, including pneumococcal, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, herpes zoster (shingles), influenza, human papillomavirus (HPV) and the tetanus/pertussis/diphtheria. These disparities in adult immunization coverage have serious implications for our growing senior population in terms of disease impact and health outcomes.
“As a nurse and lifelong health care advocate, I know the crucial importance of immunization and vaccines,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “We tend to focus many of our efforts on vaccines for children, but many adults in minority and economically depressed communities are unable to get many of these immunizations. We must reduce the financial barriers to care for these populations. We have seen vaccines save lives in this country, and we have achieved great success in reducing disparities in vaccination coverage for children. We must do more to ensure that Medicare-eligible adults have access to these important preventive services.”
“As a former Secretary of Health, I have first-hand experience with increasing access to safe and effective vaccines,” Rep. Lujan Grisham said. “I know the impact these immunizations can have on vulnerable populations. I also know that many seniors have limited and fixed incomes, which forces them to choose other priorities over preventative care. I urge the administration to do everything possible to ensure seniors have access to vaccines as part of their Medicare coverage.”
“As a doctor and former chief medical officer of Sacramento County, I know the scientific evidence is irrefutable: vaccines save lives and are among the most important medical advancements in our lifetimes,” said Congressman Bera. “It’s critical that families understand the need for people of all ages to get vaccinated, as well as the potential dangers unvaccinated individuals face. Seniors are no different, and the administration should ensure that they have the resources and access to vaccines that they need.”
U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas, which includes Downtown Dallas, Fair Park, Kessler Park, Old East Dallas, Pleasant Grove, South Dallas & South Oak Cliff; all of Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Hutchins, Lancaster & Wilmer and parts of Ferris, Glenn Heights, South Grand Prairie, Oak Lawn, Ovilla, Uptown/Victory Park and West Dallas.