Do local health departments provide vaccines to their communities?

Yes.  According to a recent survey by the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health (CADH), over 79% of health departments and districts with a full-time health director provide vaccine services.

Are health departments reimbursed for vaccines like other providers?

Generally not.  Of all U.S. health department clinics, 70% do not bill private health insurance plans for the immunization services they provide. Barriers include the inability to be recognized as providers by public and provide insurance providers and the daunting nature of the reimbursement process.  Accordingly, local health departments are missing a significant opportunity to generate revenue in a time of shrinking resources.

What was the overall goal of the vaccination billing project?

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC), a group which studied the financing of child and adolescent vaccinations in the U.S., recommended that procedures be developed to bill public entities for vaccinations.  NVAC further recommended that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fund these efforts and provide support to states and localities by disseminating best practices and providing technical assistance to develop billing mechanisms.  CDC indeed funded 14 program grantees to develop plans that will enable them to begin billing for vaccine services.  The Connecticut Department of Public Heath in collaboration with CADH and the Connecticut Influenza and Pneumococcal Coalition was awarded a portion of this funding to develop a plan for a statewide comprehensive billing system to capture reimbursement from public (Medicaid and Medicare) and private insurers. 

What was CADH’s role in the vaccination billing project? 

CADH worked with one local health department--the Pomperaug District Department of Health--to develop consistent, comprehensive billing processes with public (Medicare and Medicaid) and private payees. CADH worked with five additional health departments--Hartford Department of Health and Human ServicesNew Britain Health DepartmentWaterbury Department of Public HealthWest Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, and Westport-Weston Health District--that (1) provided data on current vaccination and billing practices and (2) piloted the model comprehensive billing systems developed over the course of the project. The ultimate goal of this project was to develop a system by which local health departments can capture revenues for services provided to their residents.

What Work Products Were Produced?

The Pomperaug District Health Department developed a two-part vaccination billing manual.  Part 1  instructs local health departments on how to secure contracts for vaccination billing.  Part 2  includes information on a model billing process.