Factsheet: HHS Announces Health Services Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments to Maintain Uninsured Access to COVID-19 Care

Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration’s whole-of-government approach to combating COVID-19, we are in a better position to respond now than at any time during the pandemic. A key component of our response is making free and easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine available to all Americans. Over the past two years, the Biden-Harris administration has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in U.S. history, immunizing 270 million Americans with nearly 700 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Today, HHS announced the following: “HHS Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Programs”(“program”) To help millions of uninsured Americans maintain broad access to a COVID-19 vaccine. The program will create a unique $1.1 billion public-private partnership to help uninsured people access COVID-19 treatment at local pharmacies, existing public health infrastructure and local health centers.

While combating COVID-19 remains an important public health priority for the Administration, its goals include ensuring that all Americans, regardless of insurance status, are continuously vaccinated against COVID-19. and access to treatment. Partners across the United States Government (USG) have developed a commercial transition plan to facilitate the smooth transition of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic drug delivery from USG purchase and distribution to traditional healthcare channels. is being formulated.

When that transition happens, most Americans should continue to pay no out-of-pocket for a COVID-19 vaccine. For COVID-19 drugs such as Paxlovid and Lajevrio, depending on an individual’s health insurance coverage, the out-of-pocket costs for certain therapeutics will change after these products transition to the traditional care model. may occur. These costs are similar to the costs of other drugs and treatments covered by traditional insurance.

In line with the administration’s pledge to prioritize equity throughout the COVID-19 response, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has issued a statement to uninsured Americans during the COVID-19 response. He tasked HHS with developing a plan to expedite access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. These products will continue to migrate to traditional healthcare services. The plan aims to ensure that people without health insurance can still get the vaccines and treatments they need.

“HHS Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments”:

The program has two main components.

First, it provides support for existing public sector vaccine safety nets. This will be implemented through health centers supported by the Local Health Department (LHD) and the Health Resources and Services Authority (HRSA).

  • This combination of partners has historically been an important source of care for those without health insurance and has been at the forefront of the administration’s response to COVID-19.
  • Under this program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will use its existing authority under Section 317 of the Public Health Services (PHS) Act to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and provide 64 state and local Vaccines will be allocated through municipal networks. National Health Department Immunization Award Winner. These winners will distribute vaccines to LHD and his participating HRSA-supported health centers.
  • Under this program, HRSA will also provide direct support to a network of health centers to help deliver both vaccines and treatments.
  • The structure builds on decades of experience and success from similar efforts. Pediatric vaccine Immunization programs funded by programs and Section 317.
  • The program is also aligned with the 2023 and 2024 presidential budgets, which propose permanent policies. Adult vaccine (VFA) However, the proposal has not yet been enacted into law. The proposed VFA program would provide permanent access to recommended vaccines for adults and create a permanent solution to existing gaps in access. But the program has not yet been enacted by Congress, so a temporary solution is needed to prevent uninsured adults from missing out on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
  • As with these existing initiatives, the federal government will receive discounts on purchases of these novel coronavirus products, consistent with long-standing policies associated with these and other similar federal purchasing programs.

Second, we will build new funded partnerships with pharmacy chains. This will enable free COVID-19 vaccination and treatment for the uninsured through their own networks and retail outlets, as has been done during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). will be able to continue to provide

  • Pharmacies are critical partners in the government’s COVID-19 response and provide critical access to convenient and timely COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests for millions of Americans. It is a point. The program will also leverage pledges by pharmaceutical companies to provide free vaccines and treatments, such as Paxlovid, to the uninsured. During the 2022-2023 season, available data indicate that more than two-thirds of adult COVID-19 vaccinations were given in pharmacies.
  • COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have promised to provide free vaccines to the uninsured, but so far we have seen how those promises have been delivered. The details of which are not fully clear.
  • In announcing this program, HHS aims to support the efforts of manufacturers to keep pharmacies accessible to the uninsured.
  • In building this program, CDC has contracted with pharmacies to ensure they continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines and designated treatments to uninsured individuals at no out-of-pocket cost, providing them with the resources that are important to this population. maintain good access points.
  • Specifically, the program relies on the public and private efforts of vaccine manufacturers to provide COVID-19 vaccines to administer COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics as they become available in pharmacies. provide a dose-by-dose payment to pharmacies to facilitate Free for uninsured people.
  • In exchange for reducing this administrative burden and the cost of working directly with pharmacies for manufacturers, HHS is committed to making vaccines readily available directly to pharmacies that participate in this effort, as well as to the manufacturers’ patient assistance programs. expects to provide a suitable reimbursement or replacement. For COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Under these agreements, pharmacies will also be eligible for a one-off base payment for each location targeted at areas with low access and vaccination rates.
  • As part of the program, participating pharmacies should ensure appropriate oversight, including through patient certification of lack of coverage and by regularly providing facility-level data to CDC as directed by CDC. Expected.
  • Pharmacies are also expected to conduct outreach on COVID-19 vaccine availability, including through regional partnerships focused on underserved populations.
  • In addition, these agreements will provide non-insured persons with no out-of-pocket access to certain COVID-19 treatments, such as Paxlovid and Lajebrio, from participating pharmacies.
  • Over the next few months, HHS will establish new close relationships with pharmacies, with this component of the program likely to launch this fall. The goal is to include not only large pharmacy chains, but also smaller local chains and independent pharmacies.

Together, these efforts will create a unique public-private partnership to enable uninsured people to access COVID-19 treatment through local pharmacies, local health centers and public health infrastructure. To implement this commercial transition plan for the uninsured, the Department has identified a limited number of existing COVID-19 Supplemental Funds that can support the program through December 2024. It also aims to fill a major gap in access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for vulnerable populations. , hopes this effort will show Congress the feasibility of an approach that extends access to other vaccines to uninsured adults.

As a more permanent measure, in both the 2023 and 2024 presidential budgets, adult vaccine A program modeled after successful successes Pediatric vaccine The program already covers recommended immunizations for children, including the COVID-19 vaccine, at no cost. The VFA will cover vaccinations, including COVID-19, free of charge for uninsured adults. To ensure long-term access to COVID-19 vaccines, HHS is encouraging Congress to license and fund VFAs.

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