When the Covid-19 vaccine is launched on the private market, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel will give a testimony in March (2023) before the Senate Health Committee.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the health panel, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Bancel would appear at a hearing titled: “Taxpayers Paid Billions For It: So Why Would Moderna Consider Quadrupling the Price of the COVID Vaccine?”
Bancel will testify at 10 a.m. ET on March 22.
When the Moderna CEO said last month that the company would raise the price of the shots to between $110 and $130 each dose significantly higher than the $26 the U.S. government already pays for the omicron boosters he sparked outrage. Sanders sent a letter to the CEO calling the proposed price hike “outrageous.”
Moderna, in a statement Wednesday, said it will provide the vaccines to the uninsured at no cost through a patient assistance program.
“For uninsured or underinsured people, Moderna’s patient assistance program will provide COVID-19 vaccines at no cost,” the company said.
Sanders, in a letter to Bancel last month, slammed the proposed price hike as “outrageous” because the vaccine was developed in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health using taxpayer money.
“I find your decision particularly offensive given the fact that the vaccine was jointly developed in partnership with scientists from the National Institutes of Health, a U.S. government agency that is funded by U.S. taxpayers,” Sanders wrote to Bancel.
Perhaps most significantly, the quadrupling of prices will make the vaccine unavailable for millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans who will not be able to afford it. How many of these Americans will die from Covid-19 as a result of limited access to these lifesaving vaccines?Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders said raising the vaccine price would have a negative effect on the budgets of Medicare and Medicaid and will increase private health insurance premiums, but he said the uninsured would feel the greatest impact.
“Perhaps most significantly, the quadrupling of prices will make the vaccine unavailable for millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans who will not be able to afford it,” Sanders said. “How many of these Americans will die from Covid-19 as a result of limited access to these lifesaving vaccines?”
In the period from the beginning of the pandemic to March 2022, Bancel sold more than $400 million worth of company stock. The Covid vaccine is currently Moderna’s only commercially available product.
Since the Covid vaccine went into effect in December 2020, the federal government has guaranteed free vaccinations for everyone in the nation, regardless of insurance status. Even after the federal Covid immunization program stops, the vaccines will still be free for anyone with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
The U.S. still has 120 million omicron boosters that haven’t been used. The supply of these doses will still be available to the uninsured for free, although it is unknown how long it will remain.
Adults without insurance might have to pay the full cost of the shots when the federal supply runs out. The White House has said it is developing plans to help.
For children whose families or caretakers cannot afford the vaccinations, the federal government offers a free vaccination program.