Governor Paterson Announces Health Insurers Must Cover Children’s Flu Shots

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vaac2.jpgNew York State Governor David A. Paterson today announced that insurers must cover seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccinations for children who are aged 19 and younger and enrolled in comprehensive health plans. The policy is consistent with New York’s preventive and primary care provisions known as the Child Wellness Law, which require insurance coverage for vaccinations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This year, ACIP has advised that children should receive both the seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccines. Therefore, under State law, they must be covered and not subject to co-payment, co-insurance or annual deductible.

This is the latest in a series of actions taken at Governor Paterson’s direction so that New York is prepared for the coming flu season. The State has developed and has begun implementing a comprehensive statewide plan to minimize the effects of the virus. On August 31, the Governor launched the statewide tour of the Novel H1N1 Influenza Town Hall Meetings to brief local officials and the public on the State’s plan for the expected resurgence of the novel H1N1 virus.

“As we prepare for the upcoming flu season and the expected resurgence of the novel H1N1 virus, we are working to ensure that New York’s families have access to the resources they need to keep their children healthy,” Governor Paterson said. “The State’s Child Wellness Law requires that all well-child office visits and necessary immunizations be covered by insurers. We want parents to know this flu season, preventive care is available and your insurance company will cover it. In addition, no child who lacks health insurance will be denied access to the vaccine due to inability to pay. Uninsured children will get access to free vaccines through the Vaccines for Children program and local health department flu vaccine clinics.”

New York State and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene expect to receive batches of the novel H1N1 vaccine from the federal government between late September and mid-October. The vaccine will be distributed to medical providers, including pediatricians, who sign up to receive it.

The CDC determined priority groups to receive the novel H1N1 influenza vaccine based on experience demonstrating these are the groups most likely to develop serious illness and complications. Among those in the priority groups are pregnant women, children and young adults from 6 months old to 24 years old, and people aged 25 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions. The individuals in these prioritized groups are strongly encouraged to get the novel H1N1 influenza vaccine when it becomes available. Individuals at risk for complications, particularly those with underlying medical conditions or those who are pregnant, who experience flu-like symptoms at any time should contact their health care provider immediately for treatment.

Novel H1N1 influenza is already circulating throughout the State. In the southern states where school resumed in the past week or two, as well as in colleges and universities, the resurgence of novel H1N1 has been significant. For most individuals, symptoms of novel H1N1 influenza have been mild, however, severe illness and deaths accompanied this strain of flu in the spring and the same should be expected this fall.

“It is my intent to keep New Yorkers as informed as possible about novel H1N1 influenza in New York State. Therefore, in the future, we will provide novel H1N1 influenza updates weekly and as new information about the virus becomes available,” Governor Paterson added. “I want to emphasize that New Yorkers should continue to adhere to the precautionary measures that have been recommended since novel H1N1 influenza was first identified in New York in April. These simple measures include:

Washing hands often with soap and warm water. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are also effective;
Avoiding close contact with people who are ill;
Staying home from work or school if sick;
Using tissues when coughing or sneezing, or sneezing into your sleeve, not your hands; and
Keeping hands away from the eyes, nose or mouth.”

More information about novel H1N1 influenza is available at www.nyhealth.gov.

(YWN Desk – NYC)


8 COMMENTS

  1. Health insurers love flu vaccines (and almost all other vaccines) since the cost of a vaccine is a fraction of the cost of treating the disease. It is pure grandstanding for a politician to insist that health insurance cover something that saves them money since they will do it without being encouraged to do so (in fact insurers voluntarily spend lots of money encouraging people to do things that make them likely to file a claim – remember the insurance company is “betting” on you staying healthy – they lose money if you get sick).

  2. kup, it’s not quite like that. As a matter of fact, insurers might well have decided to deny the vaccine as “experimental” and save themselves the cost of millions of vaccine administrations. The logic of this is that a) not everyone will get sick anyway and b) many people will get the vaccine anyway even if they have to pay out of pocket.

    The insurance company is not so much betting on you staying healthy (since that is a foolish bet – someone is always sick) as it is about pooling the healthy with the unhealthy to make the costs predictable.

  3. Health insurers are severely a “bottom line” industry. They have “pulled the plug” and tried to weasel out of covering things, chas v’shalom, that people needed, much more dire than flu shots. Health insurers have let people die.

  4. #3 and #4 – so what you are saying that unless the government(Mr. Patterson, Mr. Obama) take over health care, and ban the insurance companies, everyone is going to get deathly ill. Even Ted Kennedy wasn’t that radical.

    Are you suggesting the insurance companies would rather pay for the costs of people getting flu (and more than occasionally being hospitalized), than paying for a not too expensive vaccine (remember they are on the line for treating flu).
    That is only true if the insurance doesn’t cover anything such as major medical (so they only pay if you get horribly sick), but most health insurance also covers doctor visits, drugs, tests, etc., as well as hospitalizatoin, so if only a handful of people getting flu shots avoid getting sick, they still increase their profits (and increasing profits is what private sector firms do best).

  5. In response to this info regarding flu vaccines: it is important to be informed, see Swine flu jab link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists over 25 deaths in America at the following site:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206807/Swine-flu-jab-link-killer-nerve-disease-Leaked-letter-reveals-concern-neurologists-25-deaths-America.html
    and:
    as posted on Rav Hunas Jug email:
    from HSINewsletter

    Want to read something refreshing?

    As you’re probably aware, U.S. health officials are recommending that students should be among the first to receive the H1N1 vaccine for two reasons: 1) Young people may tend to pick up this flu easier than adults, and 2) The flu is easily spread when people are in close contact in confined spaces.

    The obvious drawback: Giving this relatively untested vaccine to an entire generation of school kids and college students is a daunting risk. And apparently some doctors agree.

    My friend Felicia has a son, Rob, who’s a high school sophomore. She recently took him to his pediatrician for a yearly, pre-school check up, and she was a bit surprised about the conversation she had with the doctor. Keep in mind, this is a mainstream doctor – not in any way an alternative medicine practitioner.

    Felicia: “I asked him about the flu vaccine, both seasonal and H1N1. He asked if Rob had ever gotten a flu shot and I said no. He said if he hasn’t gotten a shot in the past and hasn’t gotten the flu (which he hasn’t) then he would not recommend a seasonal flu shot now. In his opinion, Rob’s already built up his immunity if he hasn’t had the shot on a yearly basis.

    “Then he came right out and said that in his opinion the swine flu is complete hype. He thinks the vaccine is potentially dangerous, so should be avoided unless you’ve got some underlying health issue, asthma or something like that. He says it’s a mild flu and it’s being blown way out of proportion. He told Rob to wash his hands on a regular basis, several times a day, and to try and avoid touching his face during the day, especially at school. That was it.”

    And that’s pretty refreshing if you ask me.

    To Your Good Health,
    Shana tova to all

  6. To Jewish Mom,
    It’s amazing how some rumors never stop. I discussed this one in many previous posts in YWN. Do you think by constantly repeating your conspiracy theories it makes it more believable? And your friend’s doctor is entitled to his opinion, but most medical professionals disagree with him and are recommending the vaccine. So you found one mainstream doc who disagrees, what makes him right over everybody else? Even if you found hundreds, thousands disagree with them. If you don’t want to take the shot that’s fine, because there won’t be enough to go around anyway for those that want it. Stop trying to convince the public not to get vaccinated, you’re doing them a disservice!

  7. #5, your response has to be tongue-in-cheek and is not what anyone implied. Nonetheless, I appreciate your input and unique and refreshing viewpoints.