Medicare beneficiaries will now be able to get a free Covid-19 vaccine if one is approved early.
A rule change announced late Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow full coverage for any Covid vaccine that gets approval, even if through emergency-use authorization.
The CARES Act, signed into law in March, called for no cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries for a Covid-19 vaccine once it’s available. However, under standard Medicare rules, the legislation would apply only to a vaccine that undergoes the standard approval process for new biologics, not one that is fast-tracked.
The expectation is that the government would make the limited quantities of an early vaccine available to those most at risk for contracting Covid-19 or dying from complications caused by the virus.
That generally would include Medicare beneficiaries, the majority of whom are age 65 or older — an age group identified as high-risk.
Medicare would pay $28.39 for a single-dose vaccine; if two doses were needed, the rate would be $16.94 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second.
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