The Biden administration has unveiled a new $1.1 billion program aimed at providing Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to the uninsured free of charge once government distribution ends.
The allocated funds should support the program into December 2024, allaying fears that vulnerable Americans could be left without access to Covid-19 vaccines after the federal supply is exhausted.
The two-part initiative would utilize pharmacies, local health departments and federally-supported health centers to provide Covid-19 care, according to a fact sheet distributed by the White House.
Americans can currently receive Covid-19 vaccines and certain treatments at no charge because the federal government purchased them for distribution to the public. But when that supply runs out, the products will shift to the commercial market after Congress refused to provide more funds to purchase additional supplies.
Under the new plans, the federal government will continue to subsidize pharmacies and manufacturers so that uninsured Americans can still receive access to vaccines at no cost.
This part of the program therefore calls for creating a public-private partnership with local and national pharmacies, which administer the majority of adult Covid-19 vaccinations. The federal government will provide a per-dose payment to the pharmacies to cover the cost of administering the vaccines and treatments.
However, it is still not clear how many pharmacies will choose to participate in the plans.
This is because the US Department of Health and Human Services will still have to establish contracts with the pharmacies over the next few months, with the aim of launching the program in the fall, according to the fact sheet.
Despite this, the US government expects pharmacies that have participated in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “COVID-19 Test to Treat” program and other pandemic partnerships to join the effort.
Manufacturers are also expected to provide the vaccines to participating pharmacies under the program, which will be compensated through the drug companies’ patient assistance programs.