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California To Spend $41 Million To Combat Monkeypox

A health care worker in blue scrubs and gloves administers the monkeypox vaccine into an arm with a tattoo near the shoulder.
A health care worker administers a dose of the JYNNEOS Monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic in L.A. last month. Additional money from the state will be aimed at expanding access to vaccines, treatment and testing.
(Patrick T. Fallon
AFP via Getty Images)
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Governor Gavin Newsom authorized more than $41 million to fight the spread of the monkeypox virus in an emergency budget package signed Tuesday.

The goal is to make access to monkeypox treatment, testing and vaccinations easier. For months, LGBTQ leaders have criticized the public health response to the outbreak that started in May and has predominantly affected men who have sex with men. Nationwide, more than 20,700 people have tested positive.

Where the money will go

Most of the $41 million will go to state and local health departments, with $1.5 million earmarked to reimburse vaccine administration at community clinics such as APLA Health, which provides care for low-income LGBTQ Angelenos.

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Craig Pulsipher, APLA's associate director, said the clinic and other federally qualified health centers need to be reimbursed for the thousands of monkeypox vaccinations they’ve administered to Medi-Cal recipients since July.

“It's our understanding that this funding is specifically to help address a gap, essentially, from mid July through mid August, when the state will not be able to provide a reimbursement through the state's Medi-Cal program," Pulsipher said. "And then the state will be able to kick in ongoing reimbursement through Medi-Cal for vaccine administration at community health centers.”

Since the money is part of the state’s final budget for the current fiscal year, grants can begin immediately, though Pulsipher said the process is likely to take at least six months.

“We ask and plead with the state to act with all urgency and really make sure this funding moves through the process and out to community partners as quickly as possible,” he said.

Who the clinics serve

Community health clinics have been the backbone of monkeypox vaccination efforts in L.A.’s low income neighborhoods. Statewide they’ve administered a quarter of the 29,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine. The clinics are subsidized by the federal government and provide care regardless of a person’s ability to pay.

More than 1,700 people in L.A. County have tested positive with monkeypox, though new cases appear to be slowing. Monkeypox vaccine eligibility remains restricted to high risk groups due to short vaccine supply.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.

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