In accordance with action requested under Resolution 33-18, which was approved by the MSMS House of Delegates in April, and in light of pending action by congress, MSMS is issuing the following statement of support for the 317 program:
We know that vaccination of children prevents millions of illnesses, averts hundreds of thousands of deaths and saves over a trillion dollars in societal costs. The Michigan State Medical Society continues to work in close partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and health care stakeholders to improve vaccination rates around the state. Given that the State of Michigan consistently has vaccination rates lower than the national average and is currently facing a Hepatitis A outbreak, emergency vaccination coverage is critical. Section 317 of the Federal Public Health Service Act provides federal funding to cover vaccines for uninsured and underinsured individuals as well as those with insurance during times of emergency outbreaks. Federal funding through the Section 317 program also serves a crucial role in vaccine development and improvement, conducting community outreach and education, and leading the responses to disease outbreaks.
In the interest of public health and safety, the Michigan State Medical Society encourages the United States Congress to provide at least level funding but ideally an increase in funding over last year's levels to support the Section 317 Immunization program so the program can continue its public health efforts aimed at vaccination and safety during times of outbreaks across the state of Michigan and the country.
One of the authors of the resolution, MSMS member, Anne Drolet, a fourth-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, spoke recently on the importance of the program and what compelled the authors to bring the issue before the House of Delegates:
"We felt motivated to write this because of the recent increase in outbreaks for vaccine preventable diseases (Measles, Mumps, Hepatitis A). As a future physician, I think it's important to focus more on how to prevent illness than simply managing it when people are sick. This resolution aimed to increase support for federal funding of vaccination programs that fund education initiatives and vaccine development, in addition to providing vaccines for those who don't qualify for other health care programs. This can help give physicians and scientists the tools they need to prevent these outbreaks in the future."
As the end of the fiscal year approaches, inevitably the conversation in Washington turns to the odds of a government shutdown. However, this year, due in part to the potentially harmful impact a shutdown could have on the republican party in the upcoming November elections, it appears to be less of a threat and congress is barreling forward with its appropriations work in hopes to wrap up before the September 30 deadline.
Recently, the U.S. Senate approved H.R. 6157, the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act of 2019, which included level funding of $610,847,000 for the 317 immunization program. The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has also passed their version of the measure, which included $620,000,000 for the 317 program, but the full chamber has not taken any action. How the differences between the two chambers will ultimately be reconciled is yet to be determined.
To support MSMS's position for the 317 program, please contribute to the Michigan Doctors Political Action Committee (MDPAC).