Today at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington Dr Kristin Pope presented about the future of 317 immunization programms.
Section 317 Vaccine Funding was put in place to provide a safety net to ensure that poor children had access to vaccines. At that time, there were fewer vaccines and vaccines were not as expensive.
A measles outbreak from 1989-1991 caused a new look at this safety net. It was found the majority of outbreaks were among unvaccinated pre-school children. In response, the government enacted the Vaccines for Children program in 1993. VFC is a federal entitlement program and no enrolment is necessary for a child to be vaccinated under VFC. The implementation of VFC has had a significant impact on immunization rates in uninsured children.
Funding for VFC has grown as needed, but funding for Section 317 funding has not. Section 317 received $558 million in 2012. At the same time, more complex and more expensive program are required – new providers and new age groups have arisen, new surveillance systems are needed as is greater professional and consumer education.
What impact will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have? Under the act, new health insurance plans must provide coverage for ACIP recommended vaccines without deductibles or co-pays, when delivered by an in-network provider. As the new plans are written and existing plans lose grandfather status, the number of uninsured children and adults should start to decrease. Although some uncertainties around the ACA remain, it is expected that the problem of the underinsured being vaccinated should largely be solved. Therefore, the need for Section 317 vaccine purchase will decrease as health insurance coverage expands.
Looking forward, there is an opportunity to use 317 funds to address the needs that will remain after the ACA is fully implemented. Funds can be used to do more to address the needs of uninsured adults and maintain or improve the CDC ability to respond to outbreaks. There will also be an opportunity to fund key infrastructure needs for this increasingly complex program.
Great presentation Kristin!
Check back here in a couple of days for the presentation.