Arizona on Monday removed what had been a major obstacle to getting the COVID-19 vaccine to people enrolled in Medicaid.
The Arizona Medicaid program, which enrolls about 30% of the population in the state of Arizona, said Monday morning that it will cover the transportation costs of its members to and from COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
The transportation coverage, achieved through a temporary rate change, will make it easier for the 2.2 million Arizonans enrolled in Medicaid to get vaccinated, state officials said.
Since Arizonans enrolled in Medicaid are such a large segment of the state’s population, getting the vaccine to enrollees is critical to Arizona when it comes to having herd immunity, which occurs when enough people get vaccinated to prevent future pandemics.
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Health experts say they would like to have 70% to 90% of the population vaccinated, although the precise threshold for so-called herd immunity remains unclear in the fall of COVID-19.
AHCCCS enrollment has increased 16%.
Medicaid in Arizona is called the Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System and is a government health insurance program for people with low incomes. The eligibility limits for the program are $ 30,305 in annual household income or less for a family of three. Enrollment in the program has increased 16% in the last year.
The state’s announcement means AHCCCS enrollees can ride to their COVID-19 vaccine appointments in state agency-contracted cars, and AHCCCS will pay the bill, even for the time the car has to wait in the state. Queue at one of the vaccination sites to drive.
“This change will make it easier to vaccinate our most vulnerable Arizonans, people with disabilities and those with chronic and long-term care needs,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a written statement.
AHCCCS has long covered what it calls “non-urgent medical transportation,” according to federal guidelines, for members who are unable to provide or arrange their own transportation. Trips, arranged through a contracted service, are reimbursed as separate trips to and from health care appointments.
Adults with Medicaid often work in restaurants and food services
The temporary rate change that will cover AHCCCS members’ car trips to, during and home from the COVID-19 vaccination process is “big business” for the agency, Capriotti said. AHCCCS officials said they will present their vaccination strategy to other state Medicaid programs on Friday.
“We believe we are the first Medicaid program to make this type of rate change,” he said.
AHCCCS officials don’t know how many of their members have received the COVID-19 vaccine so far, citing a six-month delay in receiving that data.
To date, those eligible for the vaccine in Arizona include healthcare workers, emergency responders, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, K-12 and child care personnel, Protective Services Employees and People 65 and Over.
Other AHCCCS members may be employed in jobs that are expected to be next to receive the vaccine in most counties, including those who work in restaurants and grocery stores. Coconino County has already begun vaccinating that group of workers.
Before the pandemic, the majority of adults enrolled in Medicaid nationwide who did not face a barrier to work were working, an analysis of the Kaiser Family Foundation survey showed. The 2019 survey data showed that overall, 63% of non-elderly and non-disabled adults with Medicaid were working full or part time.
Medicaid members often work in restaurants and foodservice, and the top occupations include cashiers, drivers, janitors and cooks, the analysis found.
How AHCCCS Members Should Arrange Transportation for Vaccination
AHCCCS recipients who have a scheduled COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a self-service site should contact their health plan to schedule non-emergency transportation to attend that appointment, officials said. the agency.
For information on the COVID-19 vaccine, a map of all COVID-19 vaccination sites, and eligibility criteria, visit azhealth.gov.
Translation: Javier Arce