Senate bill would end North Dakota's universal vaccination program to save money

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The Senate Human Services Committee is considering a bill that would end the state's universal vaccination program to save money.

Local Public Health Units would have to bill insurance providers. A Department of Health spokesperson says all under-insured children would still have their vaccinations covered by the state.

Sen. Judy Lee, R-Fargo, says the medical marijuana measure, which is expected to take $2 million of general fund money to implement, is taking away money from the Department of Health budget that could go to these types of programs.

"This has been a commitment the legislature has taken really seriously, and it really bothers me that this other measure which may benefit a few people is costing that kind of money and is taking dollars out of a limited budget," says Lee.

Ninety-four percent of kids entering kindergarten were immunized this year, according to preliminary data from the Department of Human Services.

That would put the state at about the national average for the 2015-2016 school year according to the CDC.

The House Appropriations Committee is beginning work on the Department of Human Services' more than $3 billion budget. That budget includes extending Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act past its original sunset date, July 31 of this year.