The Ohio Department of Medicaid, Ohio’s Medicaid managed care companies, and MyCare plans have had discussions with the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians and other physician organizations about how to increase the number of Medicaid recipients receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. After listening to vaccine providers and learning about the challenges they face, Medicaid and MyCare plans have decided to increase the vaccination administration amount from $38 to $100 per COVID-19 vaccination through Sunday, August 15.
Recently, Governor Mike DeWine laid down the challenge to all of Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Plans: get more Medicaid members vaccinated. The gap between the vaccination rate of the general public and that of Medicaid recipients as of May 24 was unacceptable: 45% of Ohioans overall vs. just 24% of Medicaid members.
Even though the vaccine is free to everyone, Medicaid members face other barriers such as lack of transportation, inflexible work schedules, and no ability to make appointments online. Having more Ohioans vaccinated is the key to returning to a pre-pandemic normal, so Medicaid is working with partner providers and pharmacists to wipe out those barriers, one by one.
Providers offering on-the-spot vaccinations to patients who are in their offices for other reasons is very effective, but we heard from practices that many providers can’t meet the necessary patient volume and also use valuable office space to observe the patients for 15 minutes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines dictate. It also is a challenge to adjust providers’ workflows to administer the vaccines.
The increased payment should make it possible for providers to accommodate the extra work as well as the lower patient volume made necessary by the waiting period.
A press release put out by the Ohio Association of Health Plans (OAHP) states that a working group consisting of representatives from Aetna, Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Molina Healthcare, Paramount Advantage, and UnitedHealthcare meets regularly to iron out the details and logistics of this and other expanded vaccination efforts.
In the release, the OAHP thanks the physicians who are altering their operations to offer those shots; the nurses who are staffing the many public vaccination events; and the pharmacists who are making their stores another vaccination opportunity.