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Medicaid reimbursement and childhood flu vaccination rates linked
Date:10/17/2010

Increasing the amount that physicians are reimbursed by Medicaid for administering influenza shots may raise vaccination rates among poor children. That is the conclusion of a study published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), analyzes state-by-state vaccination data over three flu seasons and contends that the number of poor children receiving the annual flu shot could be increased by up to one percentage point for every additional dollar provided to doctors to administer the vaccine.

"There is a strong correlation between flu vaccination and Medicaid reimbursement rates," said Byung-Kwang Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at URMC and the lead author of the study. "Improving reimbursement rates could improve vaccine coverage among poor children."

The study looked at data from the National Immunization Survey (NIS) for the 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2008 flu seasons. The survey, which is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compiles detailed information including socio-economic data such as the family's income level, number of children, ethnicity, and mother's education level and marital status on childhood immunization rates.

The authors looked at immunization rates for children between the ages of 6 and 23 months. The CDC first recommended that children in this age group receive the annual flu vaccine in 2004. Using the NIS data they were able to determine the vaccination rates in each state by family income level.

The income threshold for Medicaid eligibility varies by state, so the study compared rates for children at or below the federal poverty $22,000 or less for a family of four a population that is universally covered by state Medicaid programs. Children in families below the federal pover
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Contact: Mark Michaud
mark_michaud@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-4790
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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