CMS boosts reimbursement for administering COVID-19 vaccinations

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The Biden administration on Monday increased how much Medicare pays providers to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to encourage them to vaccinate more people, hire additional staff and do more patient outreach and education.

CMS boosted the average payment for COVID-19 immunizations from $28 to $40 for single-dose vaccines and $45 to $80 for two-dose vaccines. But the amount each provider receives varies depending on what type of entity carries out the immunization and where it’s located, according to the agency. The changes take effect immediately.

The White House hopes the changes will speed up vaccinations, especially in hard-to-reach communities, by making sure that providers have enough financial resources.

“This will make it easier for more healthcare providers to get out into communities and give more COVID shots to people in need,” White House coronavirus special adviser Andy Slavitt said during a press event. “People are not looking to be convinced by the government or by some other entity; they want to have conversations with people locally in their community, whether it’s a doctor, their pharmacist, or other people that they trust.”

Some experts have worried that certain providers can’t afford to vaccinate as many people as possible because the reimbursement rates are significantly lower than other services they could provide. Higher payments for vaccine administration should make that less of an issue for providers.

CMS also announced that it’s updating its toolkits for providers, states and insurers to help them quickly vaccinate more people.

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