Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare
President Biden spoke to the nation this afternoon to announce additional action to protect America’s NH residents from COVID-19. That action: CMS will issue new regulation requiring nursing homes to implement a requirement that all staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is developing an emergency regulation requiring staff vaccinations within the nation’s more than 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid-participating nursing homes.
- Today’s action is in keeping with CMS’s authority to establish requirements to ensure the health and safety of individuals receiving care from all providers and suppliers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. About 62% of nursing home staff are currently vaccinated as of August 8 nationally, and vaccination among staff at the state level ranges from a high of 88% to a low of 44%. The emergence of the Delta variant in the United States has driven a rise in cases among nursing home residents from a low of 319 cases on June 27, to 2,696 cases on August 8, with many of the recent outbreaks occurring in facilities located in areas of the United States with the lowest staff vaccination rates.
- CMS strongly encourages nursing home residents and staff members to get vaccinated as the Agency undergoes the necessary steps in the rule-making process over the course of the next several weeks. CMS expects nursing home operators to act in the best interest of residents and their staff by complying with these new rules, which the Agency expects to issue in September. CMS also expects nursing home operators to use all available resources to support employees in getting vaccinated, including employee education and vaccination clinics, as they work to meet this staff vaccination requirement.
- HHS will develop new regulations requiring nursing homes to require that all of their workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Some states have already taken similar steps to protect nursing home residents, and this action will ensure consistent and equitable standards across the country. These new regulations would apply to over 15,000 nursing home facilities, which employ approximately 1.3 million workers and serve approximately 1.6 million nursing home residents.
This is the news as we know late this afternoon (August 18, 2021). Continue to watch this blog for additional information as it becomes available.