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      Underinsured kicked out of low cost vaccination program

      I f you're used to getting your child's vaccines at low cost from the Texas Vaccines For Children or TVFC program, listen up -- you may not qualify anymore.

      U ntil February of this year, people who had no insurance or who were underinsured could qualify for it. But due to limited funding and the state's efforts to comply with federal vaccination guidelines, that's changed.

      "There's been some drying up of funds at the state level which doesn't allow the TVFC program to be as open anymore so there's tighter restrictions," said Amarillo's Department of Public Health Assistant Director Hector Mendoza.

      Now, the definition of "underinsured" has tightened up meaning people with insurance that cover vaccinations cannot qualify for the program, no matter how high their deductible is.

      "In order to qualify for our program you have to have no insurance, Medicaid, CHP or be underinsured when your insurance doesn't cover those vaccines," added Mendoza.

      Naturally, that means the TVFC will be limiting the number of people it can serve and more people will be forced to rely on their own insurances and physicians to provide vaccinations.

      "Individuals will have to rely on their insurances," Mendoza said. "There will be some co-pays, there will be some increased out-of-pocket expenses get getting such vaccines."

      While the Amarillo Department of Public Health has already seen a few complaints due to the recent changes, Mendoza said the new guidelines should not actually limit anyone's access to a vaccine.

      "It should not affect access because people should be able to go to a pharmacy, people should be able to go to their physicians office to get the vaccine," he said. "Of course, there may be an increase in cost involving that. However, you still have access to it."

      Now under the new guidelines, to qualify as underinsured, individuals must fill out and sign a paper at their health department location stating that their insurance does not cover certain vaccinations. Those documents are available at the front desk of the Amarillo Department of Public Health located at 1000 Martin Road. Contact the local department at 378-6300 for questions or more information.