MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Millions of people in the United States may have to pay for COVID-19 vaccination contrary to the plans of the authorities to make the shots free, as government-funded Medicare health insurance for the elderly does not cover the costs of drugs approved for emergency use, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper reported.
With the outbreak of the pandemic, the US Congress passed in March the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that provides for assistance and economic security measures in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. It includes, among other things, covering the cost of coronavirus vaccines, with people on Medicare bearing no out-of-pocket costs.
At the same time, since Medicare does not cover costs for drugs approved under emergency-use designations, the White House has realised that this could leave millions of US citizens spending their own money for vaccines the government intends to make free of charge, the WSJ reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.
As of now, about 44 million people — about 15 percent of the US population — are covered by Medicare, the newspaper added.
Within the context, the US health authorities are currently exploring coverage options for a COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use. According to the newspaper, the presidential administration may press Congress to change the wording in the CARES Act so that it includes Medicare coverage for a vaccine approved under an emergency-use authorization, but it is not sure that the changes can be accomplished before a vaccine is approved.