* Just this week…
The state of Illinois has abruptly changed the rules for providing vaccines to children from low-income families, putting tens of thousands of them at risk of potentially not getting their immunizations on time.
In late August the Illinois Department of Public Health told doctors that children covered by the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan for low-income families would no longer get their vaccines for free. Children covered by Medicaid can still get free vaccines, but for those 185,347 children covered by CHIP, doctors will have to privately order vaccines from suppliers and wait to be reimbursed by the state.
This new policy presents a sizable challenge for doctors and parents. And it goes into effect Oct. 1.
“This is an ill-advised change happening at far too fast a pace,” said Dr. Edward Pont, a pediatrician in Elmhurst. “What was the impetus to change this program? It seemed to be working extremely well. Illinois immunization rates were on a statewide level always fine. Now here we have this major change with very little fanfare, very little warning. Our concern is it is going to cause a severe disruption.”
If you read the entire article, you’ll see that this new policy was pushed by the Center for Disease Control. Several states have already done this, including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
Without this change, I’m told, IDPH would run the risk that the CDC won’t continue providing vaccines free of charge to the state.
* But, frankly, I don’t care who is responsible. This needs to get cleared up pronto…
The change was announced in late August. Providers are confused and screaming bloody murder. This all takes effect tomorrow. Yesterday, the governor said he didn’t know anything about it. He might wanna think about dumping that deadline and put off the change until next year.
*** UPDATE *** From IDPH…
I want to clarify some information in your post. First, I would like to provide information about the eight-week transition period. I’ve attached the letter we sent to providers.
Illinois is committed to every child being immunized. For parents or guardians of a child covered by Medicaid or by CHIP, their child’s eligibility for free vaccines has not changed. What has changed is the way doctors obtain and get paid for vaccines. Some providers may choose not to provide free vaccines to children covered by Medicaid or CHIP.
The change was required because, for years, many doctors had not been doing the necessary work of determining a child’s eligibility for a vaccine (e.g. do they qualify under the Vaccines For Children program or CHIP), and then submitting the proper paperwork to HFS (the entity that administers CHIP). Because many physicians were failing to provide this billing paperwork, HFS has not been able to channel the appropriate reimbursement for children in CHIP to the CDC. For good reason, the CDC has requested that Illinois, and many other states, alter their process to ensure that the proper reimbursement occurs. Without making such a change, IDPH runs the risk that the CDC will no longer continue to provide vaccines free of charge to the State for the VFC program.
Thank you for helping us get the correct information out to parents who are concerned about immunizations for their children.
Illinois Department of Public Health
Public Information Officer
The attachment is here.