LOS ANGELES – L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country, is pleased to announce the launch of a pilot program that will put vaccine hesitant members in direct contact with a highly trusted source – their primary care provider (PCP). The COVID-19 Educate + Vaccinate Program will impact as many as 80,000 currently unvaccinated L.A. Care members.
As long as COVID-19 vaccines have been available, L.A. Care, which serves one out of every four people in Los Angeles County, has taken a multifaceted approach to get shots into arms. Yet, only 58 percent of the health plan’s Medi-Cal members five years of age and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, which is consistent with the statewide disparity between Medi-Cal beneficiaries and the population at large.
“L.A. Care is offering a select group of primary care providers a financial incentive for each eligible assigned member who gets their first COVID-19 vaccine,” said Richard Seidman, MD, MPH, L.A. Care Chief Medical Officer. “We acknowledge the time and effort it takes to have the conversations essential to help vaccine hesitant individuals make the decision to get vaccinated. Our goal is that the incentive will help off-set the time and effort needed to better inform unvaccinated L.A. Care members about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”
PCPs serving L.A. Care Medi-Cal members and Cal MediConnect members will be eligible for the incentive for each member ages five and above who gets their first COVID-19 vaccine between February 14 and April 30, 2022.
“It has been difficult to move the needle with those who are strongly hesitant, whether because of misinformation, disinformation or understandable trust issues,” said Seidman. “This one-on-one approach with a trusted source answering questions with facts and respect is one of the most effective tools we have to help people make the decision to get vaccinated.”
To participate in this program, PCPs with an assigned panel of 500 or more L.A. Care members, or those in the L.A. Care Direct Network, will sign up to conduct outreach and education about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. If the PCPs do not provide the COVID-19 vaccine in their office, they will help patients find a local pharmacy or vaccine location near them and help schedule an appointment, if needed.
L.A. Care launched a similar program with in-network independent community pharmacists in December 2021. Additionally last November, L.A. Care launched a vaccination incentive program for members. It offered eligible unvaccinated Medi-Cal and Cal MediConnect members 12 and older a $50 gift card to get their first or second COVID-19 vaccine after November 1. Since that time, more than 60,000 L.A. Care members have been vaccinated.
Low-income people of color, many of them Medi-Cal members, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 – more cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and lower vaccination rates.
All of L.A. Care’s vaccination efforts are designed to address the disparities in health equity that were put under a spotlight during the pandemic.