A healthcare provider wearing gloves vaccinates an older woman

The federal government has a plan to ensure that future COVID-19 vaccinations are free to all seniors — including Medicaid and private insurance beneficiaries, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

“You’ll see more from the agency by the end of the month on this issue. We’ve figured out a path forward,” Verma said during Tuesday’s virtual HLTH 2020 conference, according to MedCity News. “It’s clear Congress wants to make sure Medicare beneficiaries have this vaccine and that there isn’t any cost sharing,” she said.

CMS also would ensure appropriate Medicare fees for administering COVID-19 vaccines with the understanding that there may be complexities (such as a two-dose requirement), MedCity reported. 

Typically, it can take up to three years to ensure that Medicare has a new treatment completely covered, Verma added. But when it comes to COVID-19, “[w]e want to make sure that our payment policies aren’t standing in the way of beneficiaries having access to the latest treatments,” she added, according to Healthcare Finance News.

The Cares Act, passed in March, ensures no out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus vaccinations for Medicare beneficiaries. But earlier in the fall, federal officials realized that Medicare wouldn’t cover fees for administering COVID-19 vaccines approved under emergency use authorizations. This led to a search for ways to fix the White House’s plan to make vaccines free for all Americans, the Wall Street Journal reported in September.

The Department of Health and Human Services in July noted that healthcare professionals could charge insurers for the cost of administering a future COVID-19 vaccine.