WASHINGTON — Newly proposed federal legislation eliminating out-of-pocket vaccination costs for Medicaid consumers could cut away health disparities in Ohio's disadvantaged communities.
The Helping Adults Protect Immunity Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland, D-OH, would ensure all Medicaid consumers can receive vaccinations for free, including the potential coronavirus vaccine currently in development.
The bill would also enhance federal matching funds for states to reach at-risk and vulnerable populations, offering reimbursements for health care providers doing the vaccinations in those communities, according to a release.
"We know too many people already face barriers to get immunizations they need," the senator told reporters during a Wednesday conference call. "Ohioans in low-income communities and communities of color too often lack access to care."
Currently, traditional Medicaid consumers pay varying out-of-pocket costs for vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, while those who enrollled through the state's 2014 Medicaid expansion don't pay anything. Brown's bill would level that playing field.
Dr. Sarah Sams, associate director of the Grant Family Medicine Residency Program in Columbus, who joined Brown's Wednesday conference, has endorsed the bill, alongside the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition.
"Reducing cost barriers for vaccines is important for adults as well as children. This bill will improve public health by decreasing preventable illnesses," she said.