Medicare, Medicaid to Pick Up the Tab for Covid Booster Shots


September 24, 2021 3:56 pm

Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance program will pay the full cost of Covid-19 booster shots with no cost-sharing for nearly all beneficiaries, the Biden administration announced Friday.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines accessible and free to people across the country. CMS is ensuring that cost is not a barrier to access, including for boosters,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a statement. “CMS will pay Medicare vaccine providers who administer approved COVID-19 boosters, enabling people to access these vaccines at no cost.”

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine for certain high-risk groups, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel unanimously backed the shots for those aged 65 and up.

The panel voted against them for people ages 18 to 64 in jobs or settings where they’re at risk of becoming infected—a group that includes tens of millions of people and encompasses health-care staff and retail workers. But CDC Director Rochelle Walensky later overruled the panel, restoring the 18-to-64 workplace category to the eligible groups.

Medicare beneficiaries already pay nothing for the vaccines or their administration. And nearly all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries receive the same coverage. Covid vaccines and booster shots are also covered by most commercial insurers as well.

The CMS “continues to explore ways to ensure maximum access to COVID-19 vaccinations,” the CMS statement said.