Senators Call for Inquiry Into Low Medicaid COVID Vaccination Rates

Two prominent Democratic Senators have requested that the Government Accountability Office examine why covid vaccinations rates are so low among Medicaid beneficiaries than in the general population. What barriers are preventing state efforts to increase immunizations among program recipients, including low-income individuals who have been disproportionately affected.

Sens. Sens. asked for the inquiryCiting recent stories by KHN Roll Call that have highlighted the problem and states’ ongoing struggle to raise vaccination rates, according to a letter to the GAO that was provided to KHN. A KHN article published in February reported data from several states — Utah, Washington, Virginia, and California — which showed that vaccination rates of the Medicaid population were well below overall state rates. California’s Medicaid enrollees aged 5 and over had 54% who were at least partially vaccinated, as compared to 81% of residents of the state in that age bracket.

Officials from the Medicaid and State health plans spoke KHN that part of the problem was that plans don’t have current addresses or phone numbers for many members, which has made contacting them difficult. You can find out more about the problem here. KHN storyState officials stated in August that they were also limited by a lack data access about who is immunized.

The problem is due to Medicaid’s decentralized nature. It receives the bulk of its funding from Congress, but it is managed by states.

“Barriers to vaccinating Medicaid enrollees are particularly troubling given the program’s importance for persons of color and low-wage workers,” the senators wrote in the letter to the GAO.

“We are concerned that these data barriers may be impeding efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates and address persistent health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, particularly among communities of color and people with limited incomes who have been disproportionately affected by this disease.”

Casey chairs Senate Special Committee on Aging. Wyden chairs Senate Committee on Finance, which oversees Medicare, Medicaid spending.

“We want to ensure every effort is made to ease vaccine access to these beneficiaries,” the senators wrote. “A lack of good data hurts our ability to get shots in arms, which can prolong the pandemic and put high-risk groups in even greater danger.’’

The letter was also cited as follows: report by Duke University researchers that says there’s a 15% to 20% difference in vaccination rates between Medicaid beneficiaries and people with other forms of health coverage.

The senators stated that the vaccination lag is particularly important because 5,000,000 enrollees are front-line workers in critical services such as the health industry. citing a reportFrom the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

KHN (Kaiser Health NewsThe national newsroom ) produces in-depth journalism regarding health issues. With Policy Analysis and Polling, KHNThis is one of three major operating programs. KFF(Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed, nonprofit organization that provides information on health issues for the nation.