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FEDERAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION COSTS OF $315 MIL

Executive Summary

FEDERAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION COSTS OF $315 MIL. for up to 3,500 injuries caused by vaccines administered before the program effective date are estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. A preliminary version of the previous-injury funding proposal passed the House Ways & Means/Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee at a closed "conceptual markup" on July 13. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, enacted in November, provides awards for up to 3,500 claimants for pre-effective date injuries. Based on CBO figures, the cost of the proposal in the first year alone could total $54 mil. A July 15 press release issued by the subcommittee states that compensation would be authorized with respect to vaccines administered before Oct. 1 of this year. The program will not be effective until separate funding legislation is passed. Under the subcommittee's plan, compensation would be drawn from a general revenues trust fund and subject to congressional appropriation, the subcommittee said. The plan will be considered next by the full House Ways & Means Committee as part of the committee's budget reconciliation legislation. Consideration is scheduled to begin the week of July 20. A funding plan for compensating future injuries through the establishment of a manufacturer's excise tax on vaccines was also considered at the session. However, the subcommittee agreed to delay action while discussions are held with Rep. Waxman's (D-Calif.) Energy & Commerce/Health Subcommittee on ways to ensure that the per-dose surcharge would remain under $5. Current CBO estimates put the per-dose surcharge for the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine at $8.04. The measles-mumps-rubella surcharge is estimated at $7.84. Waxman's health subcommittee authored the compensation bill. Another funding mechanism for future claims, which was considered by the Ways & Means subcommittee, involved an entitlement program which would not be subject to annual appropriations by Congress.
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