The U.S House of Representatives approved legislation this week meant to ensure an ample supply of the latest flu vaccine is available by the next flu season.
By voice vote, members approved H.R. 475, which would include a flu vaccine that attacks a new strain of flu on a list of taxable vaccines. The law had to be amended so the 4 strain vaccine was taxable under IRS laws. Given that the Centers for Disease Control projects that 135 million doses of flu vaccine will be used next flu season, the government’s income on flu vaccines alone could be over $100,000,000 per year.
Taxable vaccines are those that are assessed a 75 cents-per-shot excise tax. That tax is used to fund compensation when the use of a vaccine causes injury or death, and applying the excise tax to new vaccines is therefore a critical step that has to be taken before they can be sold.
Under current law, vaccines attacking three strains of the flu are assessed the excise tax, and the bill the House passed adds a fourth.
Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and others said the bill does not increase the cost of flu shots at all and would only allow the fourth vaccine to benefit from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. People receiving the new vaccine would still pay the 75 cents-per-shot they pay now.
“This legislation does not create any new taxes,” Gerlach said.
On October 1, 1988, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-660) created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines.
The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines. The U. S. Court of Federal Claims decides who will be paid. Three Federal government offices have a role in the VICP:
• the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS);
• the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ); and
• the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (the Court).
The VICP is located in the HHS, Health Resources and Services Administration, Healthcare Systems Bureau, Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation.
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