Proposed legislation from two members of the House Ways and Means committee aims to automate the process of subjecting new vaccines to an excise tax that funds a federal fund for vaccine-related injuries.
The Vaccine Access Improvement Act (HR 5143), introduced August 4 in the House taxwriting body by Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett and Pennsylvania Republican Mike Kelly, would automatically apply the 75-cent excise tax on covered vaccine doses when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adds vaccines to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) injury table.
Currently, Congress must authorize the tax for each addition, a requirement the bill would eliminate. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, the VICP is a “no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions” created in the 1980s and funded by the excise tax. Individuals, including those representing children, disabled adults, and the deceased, can file petitions with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims if they believe a covered vaccine caused injury or death. A special master is appointed by the court, who reviews the claim after HHS makes its recommendation included in a Justice Department report. Compensation can be awarded at the discretion of the special master.
Separate legislation introduced alongside the bill by Doggett and Lloyd Smucker, Republican of Pennsylvania, dubbed the Vaccine Compensation Modernization Act would make various modifications to the VICP, notably moving COVID-19 vaccine claims under its purview from the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). This comes after a Biden Administration announcement that COVID-19 related claims will stay within the CICP until 2025.
“Vaccines save lives, but in the rarest of cases, usually caused by an error in administration rather than the vaccine itself, they involve injury,” said Doggett in an accompanying press release. “While strongly disagreeing with the dangerous misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers, I believe that those who suffer rare injuries associated with vaccines, including those to fight COVID-19, should receive prompt, reasonable compensation for medical bills and other losses.” Doggett went on to say that the VICP is currently prone to “unreasonable delays and inadequate redress,” which the legislation would remedy.
The Treasury Department controls the VICP Trust Fund, the pool used to provide compensation for injuries or deaths attributable to covered vaccines administered on or after October 1, 1988. Treasury issues monthly reports detailing the fund’s activity. According to the July 2023 report released August 7, the fund’s year-to-date excise tax balance was over $109.6 million, with more than $11.2 million in July collections.
For more information about the 75¢ tax on vaccines, see Checkpoint’s Federal Tax Coordinator ¶W-2950.
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