WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration says Medicare will significantly boost what it pays for COVID-19 shots to help get more Americans vaccinated, particularly those in hard-to-reach areas.
White House coronavirus special adviser Andy Slavitt said Monday that Medicare will now pay $40 per shot, an increase of nearly 75% over the $23 the program has been paying. For a vaccine requiring two shots, Medicare will pay $80.
As the government’s flagship health insurance program, Medicare covers more than 60 million people, including those 65 and older and younger individuals who are disabled.
The vaccine will continue to be free to patients, Slavitt said. But the payment increase will make it easier for more health care providers to get out into communities and give shots to those most in need. Hard-to-reach areas can include rural communities but also urban neighborhoods in which a long bus ride is the only way to reach a vaccination center.
Payment rates for Medicaid are set by states individually. But Slavitt said if states are interested in raising their Medicaid rates to match Medicare’s new payment, the federal government will see to it that states are held harmless financially. Medicaid covers low-income people.