Medicare Payments for Covid Shots Raised to $40 From $23

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The Biden administration will almost double the amount the U.S. Medicare program pays health care providers to administer Covid-19 shots to $40 per shot as part of its effort to ramp up immunizations.

The increase from the earlier level of $23 will affect payments to clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and public health agencies as the nation’s medical providers prepare to make vaccines available to any American adult who wants them by May.

Medicare is the primary source of health coverage for Americans 65 and older. Boosting the payment rate should expand access to vaccinations and compensate medical providers for extra effort needed to deliver doses to hard-to-reach communities with mobile clinics, officials said.

“This is an enormously complex effort, and it’s the result of the work of tens of thousands of people going above and beyond call of duty,” White House adviser Andy Slavitt said on a call with reporters

The U.S. administered an average 2.4 million shots per day over the last week, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.

Most Covid vaccines were developed with public funds, and the federal government has taken steps to make them available to the American public at no out-of-pocket cost regardless of whether people have health insurance. Private health plans and government programs reimburse vaccinators for the fees of administering the shots.

The change will mean $80 in reimbursement for two-dose vaccines, Slavitt said. Vaccines from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. are given in two shots, while Johnson & Johnson’s is a single shot.

Slavitt also said that Medicaid, the federal safety net program for low-income Americans, will cover the full cost of the vaccinations.

“The vaccines are free, they are safe, and they’re effective,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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