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Executive Summary

VACCINE COMPENSATION BASED ON PER-DOSE EXCISE TAX is included as a compensation funding method contained in budget reconciliation legislation which passed the House by a 206-205 vote on Oct. 29. The authorization of a per-dose vaccine excise tax was made part of the budget reconciliation package, which was considered "highly partisan" by Republicans. Opponents of the the measure said it could threaten the bipartisan economic "budget summit" talks among senators, congressmen, and Reagan Administration officials. The floor debate did not focus on the vaccine compensation provisions. Authorization for the vaccine excise taxes and a federal vaccine compensation trust fund is not expected to be considered by the full Senate. Instead, the measure could move directly to a House/Senate conference, with Senate managers of budget reconciliation accepting the vaccine compensation provision. A budget reconciliation bill has passed the Senate Finance Committee and is currently awaiting budget proposals from other committees before being placed on the Senate calendar. On Oct. 26, separate vaccine compensation legislation was introduced on behalf of the Reagan Administration by Reps. Lent (R-N.Y.) and Duncan (R-Tenn.), respectively the ranking minority members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Ways & Means Committee. The Administration proposal would require vaccine manufacturers to provide compensation through private insurance and would establish a Vaccine Compensation Board to adjudicate claims. The Administration approach has not been introduced in the Senate. Merck, which manufactures measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, supports the House-passed bill. However, Lederle, which manufactures diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine, prefers the Lent-Duncan bill. A Lederle spokesperson said the Administration approach represents "a far superior and more fiscally sound alternative" to vaccine compensation.

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