* May 8…
The Illinois Department of Public Health owes the federal government an estimated $24 million for debt that piled up from a complicated state program to vaccinate low-income kids, WBEZ has learned.
The revelation adds another layer to Illinois’ byzantine effort to get vaccines for roughly 130,000 low-income children. The state had been using free vaccines from the federal government for kids in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.
But then the feds called for states including Illinois to pay for those doses. So former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner stopped the financial bleeding with a major policy shift that led some doctors to stop vaccinating low-income children. Dozens of physicians have told Illinois public health officials this “could lead to a public health crisis with disastrous consequences” in light of the nationwide measles outbreak.
* July 3…
Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration has reversed a controversial state policy that made it harder for low-income children to get vaccinated, WBEZ has learned.
The change is likely to affect some of the roughly 130,000 Illinois kids who are in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP. WBEZ first reported in April that getting vaccines to those children got more difficult following a state rule change made by former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Pritzker’s administration quietly reversed the rule on Monday, according to a memo obtained by WBEZ. Physicians and pediatric organizations cheered the policy shift on Wednesday.
“We know that families want to get their shots at their medical home,” said Jennie Pinkwater, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “They want to see their doctor, get those things taken care of in a place where they feel comfortable and have built a relationship with a physician or provider. We’re really excited to see this barrier removed to that.” […]
The rule change will likely mean more costs for the state because more doctors might start once again vaccinating patients on CHIP insurance. But it’s unclear how much.
* Press release…
The newly rejoined program will allow providers to obtain vaccines for CHIP children via the VFC program without having to buy vaccines from private sources at market cost and be reimbursed later. As more physician practices, Federally Qualified Health Centers, health department and other providers across the state transition into the newly rejoined program, children covered by CHIP will also be able to get their CDC-recommended vaccines via their medical provider, IDPH said.