Physicians Participate in Round Table on Vaccine Reimbursement and its Effects on Community Health

During the 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Annual Meeting held in Atlanta in October, leading pediatricians met to discuss the dilemmas surrounding vaccine reimbursement. The round table, moderated by Philip A. Brunell, MD, Chief Medical Editor for INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CHILDREN, brought to light some of the difficulties pediatricians currently face with the economic issues surrounding vaccines. The two-part round table will be published in the January and February issues of INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CHILDREN.The following physicians took part in the discussion, sharing their questions and concerns: Dr. Stan L. Block, a general pediatrician in Bardstown, Kentucky; Dr. Richard Lander, chairman of the AAP’s Section on Administration and Practice Management;
Dr. Walter Orenstein, Associate Director of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta; and Dr. Thomas Saari of the AAP’s Immunization Task Force on Vaccine Finance.
Each has direct and relatable experience with the situation and offered suggestions
for improvement.The troubling predicament is a result of the high price of vaccines and the risk involved in keeping a large, expensive inventory on office premises. Until insurance companies reimburse physicians for the cost of vaccines, they can be millions of dollars in debt to the drug companies for months at a time. When physicians are repaid, the return often does not meet the cost. Due to these high prices and long compensation periods, some pediatricians are now foregoing vaccine disbursement altogether.The problems physicians are having administering vaccines is becoming a community issue, as Dr. Orenstein points out: “…when a child is vaccinated for most of the vaccine-preventable diseases, we’re not only vaccinating that child but also we’re vaccinating the community. Many people indirectly benefit from that vaccine because they are not exposed to disease.”Ideas for permanent solutions are addressed in the second installment of the round table discussion. Some possible answers include the standardization of insurance companies’ minimum reimbursement rates, meeting with medical managed care directors to discuss corrective legislation options, and attempting to mend the problem at a national, rather than state, level.INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CHILDREN, published by SLACK Incorporated (SLACK) is the best-read newspaper among general pediatricians and nurse practitioners and reports on practical and noteworthy developments in child health. Each month, INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CHILDREN includes information on allergy, asthma, and dermatology, as well as other news of interest to the general office pediatrician.For more information on vaccine reimbursement or INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CHILDREN, contact Patrick Duffey, SLACK’s Vice President of Marketing, at 856-848-1000, ext. 262, or [email protected] The round table will also be available online upon its publication at http://www.idinchildren.com

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