Health

COVID vaccination rates still lag among Medi-Cal members

in short

Reducing the gap in COVID immunization rates among the Medi-Cal population of the state continues. Five Medi-Cal programs still have a vaccination rate of less than 50%.

To boost COVID-19 immunization rates among low-income California residents, last year the state launched a $ 350 million program. But since then, the gap between these Medi-Cal members and the general public has widened significantly. .

While 84% of all 5-year-old Californians receive at least one percent of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly 57% of those in Medi-Cal, a low-income residential health insurance program, do so. until April. , according to a new immunization update from the California Department of Health.

This is a 27 point gap, and it is slightly larger than the deficit experienced last summer.

In September, the state rolled out another six-month incentive program for Medi-Cal health plan to increase Covid immunization rates among its 14 million members , to see the number of vaccines per program increased during that time. This comparison looks at a group of 12-year-olds and older because no childhood immunizations were not available last summer.

Between last August and this April, the most successful Medi-Cal program, CalViva in the Fresno, Kings and Madera regions, rose from 42% to 54% of those vaccinated 12 years and older. The program with the lowest profit, Community Healthcare Community Plan in San Diego County, rose from 46% to 48%. The five Medi-Cal programs still have a Covid prevention rate of less than 50% – although this is an improvement from last summer, when 11 plans were below the half mark.

The fact that prices are rising is a good thing, but the widening gap between Medi-Cal members and the general public is affected, says Kiran Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “They don’t get the kind of development one would hope for,” she said. “I think it’s possible that health systems may need to re-evaluate their strategy.”

Data continues to show that people live in the poorest zip codes and registered in the Medi-Cal program they are vaccinated at a lower cost, leaving them more susceptible to serious infection than infection. People who have not been vaccinated 8.6 times closer remain hospital than those those who have been vaccinated and encouraged, according to the state Ministry of Public Health.

Through the incentive program, the state pays Medi-Cal and plans to raise some funds altogether to implement efforts to gain additional membership. The programs will receive additional dollars if they achieve other goals, such as increasing immunization among their local members and among Latino and African Americans, who are vaccinated cheaper than other ethnic groups and ethnic groups.

The incentive program has now expired, and the state Department of Health is still reviewing the information provided by health plans to determine if the goal has been achieved. “The final work and financial data will be evaluated for the current program before considering whether the next plan will help,” Carol Sloan, the department’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

Generally, the number of health plan immunizations depends on the area being served. For example, plans to serve the Bay Area – where vaccination is most popular – report higher rates of Covid vaccination than those serving the San Joaquin Valley or Inland Kingdom. But because the number of vaccines in the valley is less than the start, Medi-Cal plans there have made the biggest progress in the six months of the state’s empowerment program.

Health officials interviewed on the subject said that while they have already started educating the group’s members ahead of the empowerment program, the US dollar has allowed them to step up their efforts. kaimi.

Some plans have increased the number of vaccination cases – which has even hired a conference planner to overhaul emerging hospitals, bringing in balloon technicians and foam machines with the hope of attracting more people. The plans offer Medi-Cal members free cards and free days at the local museum in exchange for a vaccine. They did associated with celebrities on social media campaigns and collaborations with local organizations such as churches to establish hospitals in zip codes with the lowest number of Covid vaccines. The programs also use the money to enhance their efforts to combat data breaches by sending emails and phone calls.

“They’re not getting the kind of progress one would expect.”

Call Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the Pan-Ethnic Health Center of California

Dr. Takashi Wada, chief medical officer at Local Government Health Plan, which serves 1.5 million people in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said an important part of the prevention strategy is to provide incentive dollars to health care workers who have contracted with them. “Because we really want our providers to talk to their patients about the importance of prevention… and to provide treatment themselves,” he said.

The proportion of program providers who administer the vaccine in their offices, rather than speaking, has risen from 40% to 60% in the six months of the incentive program, Wada said.

Still, despite efforts to increase nearly 8 percent since August, less than half of Inland Empire Health members of the 12-member group have received a shot.

“There is still ample opportunity (of growth), and that is why we have worked hard to come up with ways to try to make prevention easier and more secure,” Wada said.

At the beginning of the immunization program, access was often cited as the primary challenge – supply was not scarce, especially in rural areas of the state or farther. Now health programs are hearing a lot of doubts due to distrust, misunderstanding and political ideology, Wada said.

Jake Hall, deputy director of contractors at Kern Health System, which affects about 330,000 people in Kern County, said the reason why members are recommending abandonment of immunization is that they are already infected with COVID- 19. It’s also a common cause, says Hall. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend prevention pregnant and those who have been infected in the past.

Officials at health programs that have the highest number of Covid vaccines say one of the main priorities now is to improve immunizations among young children. By mid-April, 28% of California 5 to 11 children enrolled in Medi-Cal received at least one percent, according to Medi-Cal data. In comparison, 40 percent of all children across the state in this age group received a shot.

“I think in our community there has been a lot of support for childhood immunizations, but it has failed. It’s very focused,” said Christine Tomcala, chief executive officer at Santa Clara Health.

“There is still ample opportunity (for growth), and that is why we are working hard to find ways to apply the vaccine and gain confidence.”

Dr. Takashi Wada, Chief Medical Officer at Inland Empire Health System

Last month the state legislature repealed a bill that will require vaccination for children to school. On the same day, the Newsom government also postponed its immunization program for school children until at least July 2023.

In the coming months, health insurance plans will also experience a change in their membership numbers like California expands Medi-Cal to 50 and over unauthorized persons – add new people who may not have been vaccinated yet.

Similarly, while declaring the federal state of emergency COVID-19 public health, the state suspended efforts to verify Medi-Cal eligibility. Considering the end of the state of emergency as expected this summer, nearly 2 million people estimated loss of Medi-Cal coverage if they no longer qualify for the program either because their income has increased or they have been able to get some form of health insurance in the last two years.

“We’re adding more people who won’t be vaccinated, but we could also lose people who are, so it may look like we’re going to go back,” Tomcala said.

CalMatters COVID and health coverage are sponsored by the Blue Shield of the California Foundation, the California Health Foundation and the California Health Foundation.

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