Schumer Wants Medicare To Cover Coronavirus Vaccine

Mack Rosenberg
March 01, 2020 - 5:03 pm
Schumer

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to make sure a coronavirus vaccine would be available to senior citizens, so he’s insisting a spending bill in Congress requires Medicare cover the costs of it.

The bipartisan spending plan to combat coronavirus should be unveiled this week, and Schumer said there’s not currently any guarantee that Medicare will cover a vaccine when it’s available.

“This is the vaccine, which they’re in the process of coming up with. And we very much need seniors, who are most susceptible population, to be able to get it. If you tell them it’s going to cost $200, lots of seniors won’t get it, putting themselves and many others at risk,” Schumer said in Manhattan Sunday.

Medicare doesn’t cover all vaccines, but Schumer said this one should be.

“I think all vaccines should fully be covered by Medicare, because they save the overall health system money,” the Senate minority leader said.

The spending plan in Congress is in the neighborhood of $8 billion. Both the Democratic-controlled House and GOP-held Senate have been eager to complete work on the measure in the next two weeks.

While the White House asked Congress for $2.5 billion to fight the coronavirus, Schumer's proposal allocates $8.5 billion.

“$1.5 billion to the CDC to continue rapid response. $3 billion to public health and social service emergency funds. $2 billion to reimburse state and localities,” Schumer said of the bill.

Another $2 billion will be split between the international fight against the virus and vaccine development, Schumer said.

On Thursday, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in with a roster of demands, including interest-free loans for small businesses harmed by the outbreak and reimbursements for state and local governments for costs incurred in fighting the coronavirus. Pelosi said any vaccine should be “affordable” and “developed with taxpayer dollars ... not dependent on ‘Big Pharma.’”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.