The Biden administration on Tuesday increased the amount providers will get paid for administering COVID-19 vaccinations to multiple residents where they live.
Providers will receive up to five times the typical payment when they administer COVID-19 doses to fewer than 10 Medicare beneficiaries on the same day at one location, such as smaller group homes, assisted living facilities and other group living accommodations. That could translate to $35 more per vaccination.
"We are doing everything we can to remove barriers to vaccinations, including ensuring appropriate payment levels for vaccine providers to connect with more people in their communities who are unable to receive the vaccine in a traditional setting," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said. "We've seen the difference that vaccinations have in communities, and we are calling on providers to join us as we continue to increase vaccination rates across the country. Today's actions ensure that everyone has the ability to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including older adults with mobility or transportation challenges and other at-risk individuals."
The administration said it hopes the higher payment will improve vaccinations for those who are homebound or can't easily get to retail pharmacies or providers. CMS said those groups are often at-risk patients who would need complex care if they were hospitalized with COVID-19.
There were approximately 113,000 avoidable COVID-related hospitalizations in June and July, accumulating an estimated direct cost of $2.3 billion, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.
Medicare has repeatedly increased reimbursement for vaccinations, including upping payments from $40 to $75 per dose in some circumstances. The agency also sought to ensure beneficiaries wouldn't be charged for the shots.
Tuesday's update is meant to help with costs of storing, handling and administering vaccines for these groups and monitoring beneficiaries after administering the vaccine.