Immunization Action Coalition and the Hepatitis B Coalition

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Issue Number 253            June 18, 2001

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE

  1. Urge your senators to join their senate colleagues in signing the letter to support adequate funding for CDC'S National Immunization Program
  2. Urge your senators to support the amendment to ensure health plan coverage of all ACIP-recommended childhood and adolescent immunizations

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(1)
June 18, 2001
URGE YOUR SENATORS TO JOIN THEIR SENATE COLLEAGUES BY SIGNING THE LETTER TO SUPPORT ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR CDC'S NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION PROGRAM

You can make a difference in ensuring that the U.S. immunization system is adequately funded next year. Call, write, or email your senators by the end of June and ask them to join their U.S. Senate colleagues in signing the letter below. This effort by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike can help ensure the continued success of nationwide immunization activities in fighting vaccine-preventable diseases. Be sure to forward this issue of IAC EXPRESS to your friends and colleagues and urge them to contact their senators as well.

Last year, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled "Calling the Shots" warned about the destabilizing effects of dwindling federal funding for immunization programs at the state and local level. According to IOM and other public health experts, additional federal resources are needed to ensure that state and local programs have adequate funding to purchase vaccines and reduce the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

You can help by urging your senators to sign the following letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations, urging support for increased funding for immunization delivery and vaccine purchase grants. This letter was written by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), James Jeffords (I-VT), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). These senators are currently in the process of gathering signatures from additional senators who support this important funding initiative.

Urge your senators to contact Lisa German of Senator Reed's staff at (202) 224-4642 or Chia Chia Chang of Senator Jefford's staff at (202) 224-6770 to sign onto the letter or obtain more information. The full text of the letter follows:

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To the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education:

As you consider the fiscal year 2001 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, we ask for your continued leadership and support for adequate funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) national immunization program. Specifically, we would request a total of $214 million for immunization delivery (operations/infrastructure) and $293 million for state vaccine purchase grants.

Last year, Congress took initial steps to address the instability in the Section 317 immunization program by providing half of the funding increases recommended in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, "Calling the Shots," for state infrastructure grants. States use these funds to conduct outreach and education of parents and providers about new vaccines, develop and implement state-based immunization registries and develop initiatives to reach children in medically underserved areas. The IOM estimates that a minimum of $214 million is necessary to restore state infrastructure grants to 1998 levels. This would require $32.5 million above the President's budget request.

States are also grappling with recent dramatic increases in vaccine purchase costs. CDC vaccine purchase grants enable states to buy vaccines for disadvantaged children in a timely manner and to avoid missed opportunities when no other coverage is available to support immunization services. Today, the cost to fully immunize a child, at federally negotiated discount prices, is $384.74, with almost half of that cost resulting from the newly recommended pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).

PCV is a revolutionary new vaccine that prevents a serious, sometimes deadly, strain of bacteria known to cause bacterial meningitis, blood infection, pneumonia as well as inner infection of the ear in children. It has been estimated that pneumococcal-related diseases cost this nation $1.5 billion a year. To help states keep up with escalating vaccine purchase costs, we recommend that $79 million more than the President's request be allocated for vaccine purchase.

We hope we can count on your continued support for additional investments in our national immunization program. Indeed, these funds are central to our ongoing campaign to advance the health of our nation by protecting our citizens from the ravages of vaccine-preventable disease. Last year we made a significant downpayment. We look forward to working with you again this year to get the job done.

Jack Reed
United States Senator (D-RI)

James Jeffords
United States Senator (I-VT)

Richard Durbin
United States Senator (D-IL)

Kay Bailey Hutchinson
United States Senator (R-TX)

Jeff Bingaman
United States Senator (D-NM)

Lincoln Chafee
United States Senator (R-RI)

Barbara Mikulski
United States Senator (D-MD)

Patty Murray
United States Senator (D-WA)

Blanche Lincoln
United States Senator (D-AR)

John Kerry
United States Senator (D-MA)

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Let your U.S. senators know how you feel about the importance of increasing immunization funding. Telephone, write, or email your senators and urge them to sign this letter and support this initiative.

Visit the U.S. Senate website: http://www.senate.gov to find your senators and their contact information, or call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and an operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases (PKIDS) also has a website that can link you with your senators. Go to: http://capwiz.com/pkids/dbq/officials/ and search by your state or ZIP code.

To order the IOM report "Calling the Shots," or read it free online, visit the National Academy of Science website at:  http://books.nap.edu/catalog/9836.html
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(2)
June 18, 2001
URGE YOUR SENATORS TO SUPPORT THE AMENDMENT TO ENSURE HEALTH PLAN COVERAGE OF ALL RECOMMENDED CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENT IMMUNIZATIONS 

This week Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and others plan to offer an immunization amendment to S. 1052, the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001. The amendment would require all health plans, including self-insured employee benefit plans, to cover without co-payments or deductibles all of the immunizations for children and adolescents recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Please urge your senators to support this important amendment. For more information or to obtain a copy of the amendment, please contact Kelly O'Brien of Senator Durbin's office at (202) 224-5610.

In addition, if you know of someone with a private insurance plan who was unable to get vaccinated due to cost issues (i.e., could not afford the deductible or co-payment) or whose insurance plan did not cover one of the ACIP-recommended vaccines, Senator Durbin's office needs to hear about it! Please send your story to kelly_o'brien@durbin.senate.gov

Senator Durbin plans to talk about this issue this week (June 18-21) and is looking for real-life stories that illustrate cases of children who were unable to get vaccinated because of barriers due to deductibles and co-payments or if their insurance plans did not cover an ACIP-recommended vaccine.  

 

Immunization Action Coalition1573 Selby AvenueSt. Paul MN 55104
E-mail: admin@immunize.org Web: http://www.immunize.org/
Tel: (651) 647-9009Fax: (651) 647-9131

This page was updated on June 18, 2001