Nursing Home Must Vaccinate Employees or Risk Losing Medicaid, Medicare Funding

Yesterday, President Biden announced U.S. nursing home workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or facilities risk losing their Medicaid and Medicare funding. Nursing homes have been one of the places most affected by COVID-19 deaths during the course of the pandemic, and this requirement is meant to protect elderly residents and reduce their risk of contracting the virus.


Many nursing home providers criticized this requirement for not applying it to other areas of the healthcare industry and expressed concern that it will worsen the existing workforce shortage for long-term care facilities. However, some providers have already enacted self-imposed vaccination mandates for their staff despite worker shortage concerns. Thus far, overall nursing home staff vaccination rates have lingered around 60% with rates at the state level ranging from 88% to 44%.


The Delta variant is on the rise across the U.S., causing an increase in COVID-19 cases in nursing homes. Many of the recent outbreaks have happened in facilities in areas with the lowest employee vaccination rates. Although the current vaccination rate for nursing home residents is over 82%, many residents are still at risk due to their age, health, and the vaccination rates in their community and among the staff.


Since Medicaid pays for about 60% of nursing home care and Medicare covers about 20%, this new rule carries a lot of weight across the industry. It applies to more than 15,000 skilled nursing facilities in the U.S., which impacts about 1.3 million workers who serve about 1.6 million nursing home residents.


The requirement is scheduled to go into effect in September, and CMS will provide more detailed guidance, including how regulators are expected to enforce the mandate, at that time. CMS also expects nursing home operators to offer resources and education to employees to support these efforts.


Read the full article from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

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