NASHP, in collaboration with Immunize Colorado and potential partnership with AcademyHealth, is excited to build on our current CDC-funded project, Immunization Barriers in the United States: Targeting Medicaid Partnerships. Routine vaccinations for children have avoided approximately 332 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 premature deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses. As a critical source of coverage for a significant number of children and pregnant women, Medicaid greatly influences maternity and pediatric care, and Medicaid programs have opportunities to identify solutions to immunizations gaps through policy improvements. Through this project, we will build on our previous work by engaging state leaders, including state Medicaid directors, public health leaders, IIS program managers, and subject matter experts in the field to accomplish the project goals of increasing state opportunities to facilitate vaccination of children and pregnant women living in poverty, and to facilitate improvements in IIS.
NASHP will bring a rigorous technical approach to analyzing and sharing with CDC the barriers to immunizations for children and pregnant women with Medicaid coverage, identifying and sharing best practices among Medicaid programs, and engaging state leadership to identify solutions for improving immunization rates. Cross-state analyses, identification and dissemination of best practices, technical assistance, facilitated discussions, and culling of state themes are core to many of NASHP’s projects. We have strong relationships with state staff, especially Medicaid agencies, whose cooperation will be essential to the project’s success.
The project team will build on our current work by engaging 3-5 states in a Community of Practice (CoP). We will select states that demonstrate strong interagency partnerships and readiness to identify and adopt strategies with potential to improve immunization rates among children and pregnant women with Medicaid coverage. The CoP state teams will develop workplans for their own states to meet the goals of the project and will collaborate to brainstorm, share successes and challenges, and identify promising practices. The project team will support the CoP through technical assistance and will disseminate its lessons to other states.
The project team will convene quarterly a Steering Committee of state officials and subject matter experts to discuss opportunities and challenges of reducing income-based immunization rate disparities. These convenings will help inform the strategies and activities of the cooperative agreement and facilitate open communication between CDC and state Medicaid programs.
In the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that Medicaid officials receive evidence-based easy digestible information from trusted partners, and that they partner effectively with other state agencies to reduce barriers to vaccinations. NASHP will identify best practices among Medicaid programs to reducing immunization gaps, develop fact sheets, blogs, newsletters, and webinars to disseminate innovations and lessons, and draw on NASHP’s communications vehicles and credibility with state officials for dissemination.
State officials currently are overwhelmed addressing the immediate needs of the pandemic, yet when the crisis resolves, vaccination issues will take on a new urgency as immunizations decline based on delayed well-child exams. This project will identify strategies to reduce barriers as well as new challenges that are evolving and will be critical for helping Medicaid agencies meet the challenges they face.