• Increased COVID-19 Vaccine Medicare Payment Rates Will Improve Access for Patients  

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
    Wednesday, March 17, 2021

    Statement attributable to:
    Ada D. Stewart, MD
    President
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased that CMS has increased Medicare payment rates for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines – a change that will improve patients’ access to the vaccine. The increased rates more accurately reflect the unique costs associated with storing and administering vaccine products, as well as the time primary care physicians spend counseling patients and answering their questions about the vaccine. We urge state Medicaid programs and private payers to similarly increase their payment rates in order to improve equitable access for all patients.

    “Primary care physicians are essential to addressing vaccine hesitancy and improving access to COVID-19 vaccines within their communities. There is growing evidence demonstrating that patients, particularly those who are hesitant, trust and want to hear from their physician about the COVID-19 vaccine. Recent survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation also suggests patients would prefer to receive the vaccine from their own physician. Unfortunately, most independent primary care practices aren’t able to obtain vaccines for their patients.

    “In order to foster patients’ confidence and achieve herd immunity, family physicians and other primary care physicians must be an integral part of vaccine distribution. Federal, state and local governments have taken several steps to leverage potential vaccinators across health care professions, but recent evidence confirms that distributing vaccines to primary care practices would be a more effective strategy to increase access. Policymakers should expeditiously incorporate primary care practices into existing vaccine distribution plans.”

    Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stewart, contact Megan Moriarty, 800-274-2237, Ext. 6052, or mmoriarty@aafp.org

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    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 133,500 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.