Medicaid payments connected with vaccination rates for the poor

A recent study has shown that Medicaid paid to physicians is connected with the percentage of poor children who are fully vaccinated, though a poor rate of pay is not always connected to a low vaccination rate.

When the Medicaid flu vaccine is increased by $10 from a typical state fee of $8 to the highest state rate of $18, the overall vaccination rate increased between six and nine percentage points between 2005 and 2007, American Medical News reports. The study was published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

State rates of poor children who received a full slate of shots recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranged from 53 percent in Vermont to four percent in Iowa, according to American Medical News. Average vaccination rates rose from 11.6 percent in 2007 to 18.8 percent in 2008.

Many of the state Medicaid programs provide physicians with pay equal to less than the costs of giving the flu shots.

“This may create an obvious disincentive when physicians’ offices lose money every time they give a flu shot, even though vaccines are provided for free,” Byung-Kwang Yoo, an assistant professor in the department of community and preventative medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said, according to American Medical News.

The correlation did not occur in all states, however, as states that give physicians only $2 for each pediatric flu shot, including Colorado, Connecticut and Hawaii, had the 10th, 11th and 26th best vaccination rates respectively in the country.

In 2013 and 2014, Medicaid vaccine administration fees for primary care physicians will increase to around $22 as part of a federally funded hike. The Medicaid pay will revert to previous levels in 2015.