GW Research Analyzes Vaccine Benefits and Cost Sharing Policy for Adult Medicaid Enrollees

A new study and in-depth report by the Immunization Law and Policy Program, based at the George Washington University (GW) School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS), finds that Medicaid programs have typically maintained or expanded vaccine programs for adults during the past ten years. In addition, the new research shows that nearly half of the Medicaid programs surveyed explicitly prohibited the imposition of co-payments for such services.

Alexandra Stewart, JD, an assistant professor of health policy at SPHHS, and her colleagues analyzed how Medicaid programs in fifty states and the District of Columbia address benefit design and cost-sharing policies related to vaccine services for non-institutionalized adults.

Stewart’s team found that nearly 71 percent of Medicaid programs covered all vaccines for adults recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of medical and public health experts that develops recommendations on how to use vaccines to control diseases in the United States. Vaccines that protect against the flu were the most commonly covered while those for HPV, chickenpox and shingles were the least frequently covered, according to the research.

“Our analysis shows that over the past ten years, Medicaid programs have made significant strides toward providing ACIP-recommended vaccines to poor adults, a finding of great public health importance as diseases like the flu are preventable and can sicken millions,” says Stewart.

The study, which was published in the January issue of Vaccine, is the most comprehensive review of Medicaid policy related to adult vaccinations ever completed. An in-depth report on the same research by Stewart and the Immunization Law and Policy Program can be accessed by clicking here. Both the report and the peer-reviewed study published in Vaccine were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.