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Merck's Medicaid vaccine demonstration project

Executive Summary

Virginia Medicaid has applied for a federal Medicaid waiver to allow it to participate in Merck's vaccine pilot project ("The Pink Sheet" April 13, T&G-3). The waiver would allow the state's Medicaid agency to pay Merck directly for the vaccines, which the company would supply to physician offices. If the waiver is approved, Merck is expected to begin shipments in December, initially focusing on the firm's measles, mumps, rubella vaccine MMRII. Arizona, California, Arkansas and New Jersey have also expressed interest in the pilot project. Payments are based on the discounted price Merck provides to the Centers for Disease Control's vaccines program, plus a fee for distribution. House and Senate legislators reportedly have discussed a change in federal Medicaid statutes to permit states to participate in such a program without going through the waiver process; the issue could come up when Congress reconvenes next year.

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