Congressman Darren Soto introduced the Helping Adults Protect Immunity Act (HAPI) Act to ensure more Americans can receive necessary vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, at no out-of-pocket cost. The legislation would create parity in vaccine coverage between traditional Medicaid and Medicaid expansion programs. The bill would also provide enhanced federal matching funds for states to better reach at-risk and vulnerable patient populations. Senator Sherrod Brown has introduced the Senate companion bill.
“Like the rest of the country, Central Floridians are eager to return to normalcy,” said Congressman Soto. “If we want to come out of this crisis, we’ve got to ensure our low-income and communities of color on Medicaid have access to a COVID-19 vaccine with no out-of-pocket costs. Overall, the HAPI Act will improve public health in Florida and across America, and ensure our most vulnerable communities are not left behind.”
The COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness will be determined in part by how many Floridians get vaccinated. Currently, those enrolled in traditional Medicaid face varying out-of-pocket costs and can be forced to pay for vaccines, while those enrolled in Medicaid through the expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pay $0 in out-of-pocket costs for vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This lack of consistency and the resulting barriers to access impede efforts to improve vaccination rates among at-risk populations.
The HAPI Act would also give states funding to enhance reimbursement rates to the health care providers who will be responsible for vaccinating many of the most at-risk and hardest-to-reach populations.