The Washington Vaccine Association (WVA) was formed by the state legislature in March 2010 to help the state continue its universal purchase of vaccines for children under age 19. As an independent, nonprofit organization, the WVA administers the flow of vaccine funds by collecting payments from health plans, insurance companies, and other payers* and remitting the funds to the state. Through the Washington State Department of Health's Childhood Vaccine Program, the state purchases vaccines at favorable rates and distributes them to providers at no charge.
Why the WVA?
Funding for state-supplied vaccines for privately insured children was scheduled to end in May 2010. To preserve one of the most efficient and cost-effective universal purchase and distribution systems in the country, state Representative Eileen Cody and state Senator Karen Keiser brought together a multidisciplinary workgroup of stakeholders to explore ways to continue universal vaccine purchase for all children in Washington.
Their months of work culminated in a state-wide Immunization Congress in September 2009. The congress was attended by a diverse group of representatives from private medical practices, vaccine manufacturers, public health, Taft Hartley trusts, self-funded employers, state agencies, health insurance carriers, and other states that have solved similar problems.
The congress laid the foundation for what would eventually lead to the formation of the WVA and the continuation of universal purchase for childhood vaccines. Initially, the WVA was funded by pre-payments from six of the state’s private health plans. Today, all payers are responsible for covering the costs of administered vaccines as determined by per-dosage assessments. Assessments are based on federal contract rates, plus reasonable add-ons to finance the WVA and repay the initial prepayments.
Why Universal Vaccine Purchase?
There are several reasons that the state, with the help of the private/public partnership, pushed to safeguard universal purchase of childhood vaccines:
Lower Costs: States that serve as the single purchaser of childhood vaccines receive more favorable pricing. Depending on the vaccine, these prices range from an estimated 15 percent to 60 percent lower than private purchase alternatives.
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Provider Benefits: Health care providers continue to administer childhood vaccines to their patients, free of worry. In addition, they avoid the financial and staffing burden required to purchase vaccines privately and store serum separately for privately and publicly insured children.
Immunization Benefits: Next to clean drinking water and good nutrition, vaccines have saved more lives than any other public-health intervention in modern history. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that vaccinating every child born in the U.S. from birth to adolescence would prevent 14 million infections, spare 33,000 lives, and save $10 billion in medical costs. (Source: “How Safe Are Vaccines?” by Alice Park, Time, May 21, 2008.)
For more information about the role and progress of the WVA, please email us at email@example.com.
*A small number of state- and federally-funded health plans are exempt from these requirements, notably Medicare, Medicaid, and Healthy Options, a plan administered by the state Department of Health and Social Services.