Healthcare organizations from across the care continuum react to the new emergency regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requiring all eligible staff be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. The Biden-Harris Administration is requiring COVID-19 vaccination at healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
CMS released the following in a press statement:
The emergency regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today protects those fighting this virus on the front lines while also delivering assurances to individuals and their families that they will be protected when seeking care.
"Ensuring patient safety and protection from COVID-19 has been the focus of our efforts in combatting the pandemic and the constantly evolving challenges we're seeing," said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. "Today's action addresses the risk of unvaccinated healthcare staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation's health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them."
While generally supportive of the mission to broadly vaccinate workers, a number of healthcare organizations released statements in response to the emergency regulation:
- Rick Pollack, President and CEO, American Hospital Association
Today's vaccine mandate regulations set clear expectations, and streamline and simplify compliance requirements for health care providers. Importantly, they clarify that hospitals will need to comply with only the CMS rule, eliminating unnecessary complexity in implementing vaccine mandates. Additionally, we welcome that the CMS regulation provides time to come into compliance, offers guidance on medical and religious exemptions, clarifies interactions with state and local laws, and provides a level playing field across healthcare facilities. AHA has been supportive of hospitals that call for mandated vaccination of health care workers in order to better protect patients and the communities we serve. We will further review today's regulations and assist our members in coming into compliance.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement today regarding the release of an emergency regulation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring all workers in Medicare and Medicaid-certified health care settings to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL.
"Once again, we appreciate the Biden Administration's efforts to ensure that as many workers as possible in all health care settings are vaccinated. Nursing home providers have dedicated themselves to increasing staff vaccination rates, and as a result, three-quarters of employees are fully vaccinated today. We are committed to forging ahead and encouraging all staff members to get these safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
"While we support the overall intent of this CMS policy, we are concerned that the execution will exacerbate an already dire workforce crisis in long term care. A hard deadline with no resources for providers or glide path for unvaccinated workers is likely to push too many out the door and ultimately, threaten residents' access to long term care.
"Even a small percentage of staff members leaving their jobs due to this mandate would have a disastrous impact on vulnerable seniors who need around-the-clock care. Across the country, access to long term care is becoming strained as providers have no choice but to limit admissions or even close their doors due to workforce shortages. We hope to continue working with the Administration to make the federal vaccine mandate successful while supporting our residents and caregivers."