The federal government and insurers incentivized healthcare providers in Kentucky and California to vaccinate Medicaid patients against COVID-19 by offering bonuses based on the percentage of patients successfully vaccinated.
“[This is] truly sickening and I am embarrassed for my profession by this,” Dr. Meryl Nass, an internist and biological warfare epidemiologist, wrote on her Substack, where she posted several documents relating to the COVID-19 vaccine provider incentive programs.
The documents help to draw a picture of the broader effort at the federal, state and local levels to unleash a range of strategies targeting low-income and people-of-color communities, which tended to have lower vaccination rates.
The strategies included providing hundreds of millions of dollars for the creation of “culturally tailored” pro-vaccine materials and for training “trusted” and “influential messengers” to promote COVID-19 and flu vaccines to communities of color in every state.
Nass’ revelations showed these efforts went beyond advertising, fear campaigns, payments to patients and payments to trusted community actors and included, in some cases, direct financial incentives to healthcare providers.
Kentucky: Medicaid paid doctors up to $250 per vaccinated Medicaid patient
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky told physicians in 2021 it would “recognize your hard work by offering incentives for helping patients make the choice to become vaccinated.”
The more people vaccinated, the higher the per-person incentive.
For physicians who treated an Anthem Medicaid cohort with a minimum of 25 patients in their practice, Anthem Medicaid offered incentives for vaccination by Sept. 1, 2021, that ranged from a $20 bonus per vaccinated person for physicians who vaccinated 30% of the cohort, to $125 per vaccinated person for those who vaccinated 75% of the cohort, with several incremental steps in between.
As time went on, the rates increased….