A new law requires health insurance companies to pay annual assessments, depending on how many children are enrolled in their plans. The state will use the money to buy vaccines for all Maine children and distribute the doses to physicians.
The sponsor of the law, Rep. Gary Connor, said the program would cost insurance companies nothing more than they already spend on vaccines, because the state gets a 40 percent discount on vaccines. The end result will be that more children will be vaccinated. The State-purchased vaccines are not expected to be available until 2012.
Twelve years ago, 84 percent of Maine children received all of their recommended vaccinations. Since then, more families have had to pay for vaccines out of pocket; costs increased, and federal funding decreased. Maine’s rate of children vaccinated — 74 percent — is now below the national average of 76 percent.