Richard H. Hughes, IV, Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in The Washington Post, in “Opinion: It Shouldn’t Be So Hard for Older Adults to Receive the RSV Vaccine,” by Leana S. Wen. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

At long last, there are two effective vaccines that can protect older people against the respiratory syncytial virus. Yet administrative barriers are making it difficult for millions of vulnerable seniors to access them.

This is unacceptable. Those who wish to be vaccinated against RSV should be able to do so, free of charge. Policymakers should fix these access issues before RSV season hits this fall and winter. …

Patients without Medicare between ages 60 and 64 also face barriers. Those without insurance will have to bear the cost themselves or try to find discounted shots from health departments and subsidized clinics. Those with insurance might have to do the same. Private insurers are supposed to cover vaccines recommended by the CDC, but in this case, the CDC’s guidance was nuanced. Instead of explicitly recommending that people receive the RSV shot, as it does for the flu and coronavirus vaccines, it said that they “may” receive it, in consultation with their health-care providers.

Richard H. Hughes IV, a vaccine policy expert and partner at Epstein, Becker & Green, told me that “some insurers have used this language as a way out” by claiming that “may” does not equate a full-throated recommendation. This is a deliberate perversion of CDC’s intention, which was to empower patients to choose what’s best for their individual situations. Instead, that decision is now driven by whether they can pay.

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