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Idaho military families lose vaccine coverage

Military families are up in arms over a change to vaccine coverage throughout the state.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare sent out a letter to health care providers naming Oct. 1 as the first day state-supplied vaccines will become unavailable for insured children who are not residents of idaho and children who have TRICARE as their only insurance.

TRICARE is the primary health insurer of active and retired members of the military and their families.

It’s complicated, but it boils down to a lack of funding and it’s affecting families at the core.

Reporter Jessica Crandall first heard about the change in policy from a frustrated military mom who she met with Wednesday at the park with two of her little ones.

Last names have been withheld for privacy reasons.

Tina and her husband moved to Idaho Falls three years ago, from a military base on the east coast.

She’s lived all around the country and has never felt a slap in the face like this before, when it comes to medical coverage.

“I thought it had to have been a mistake and that it wasn’t true,” said Tina.

Her friend Jennifer, also a military wife, wonders if they’re being unfairly targeted.

“It’s extremely frustrating, and it’s very surprising,” said Jennifer.

It’s surprising because TRICARE has always provided, from pregnancy on up.

“It’s not even an issue. Birth and childcare has always been paid for,” said Jennifer.

Their pediatric administrator, Eric Gravatt, was just as surprised to receive a letter from the DHW stating he could no longer administer state-supplied vaccines. So, he started calling his patients in before the cut off date.

“In the perspective of the physicians, it doesn’t matter who your insurance is, every kid should be immunized,” said Gravatt.

Crandall called up DHW’s spokesman Wednesday to find out why this is happening.

He said TRICARE refuses to pay for their vaccine assessment like other insurers, and the state no longer has enough federal funding to compensate for it.

“We hope we can work something out, because we want military families and their kids to be covered,” said Shanahan.

Shanahan also said they are working with a congressional delegation, the Centers for Disease Control and TRICARE to develop a solution to the problem.

Prescription Center in Idaho Falls offered to vaccinate military children until the issue is resolved.

They will still bill to TRICARE.

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