CMS Issues New Rule Imposing Education About, and Access to, COVID-19 Vaccines and Reporting Requirements for Nursing Home and Congregate Care Facilities

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On May 11, 2021, CMS issued an interim final rule requiring that nursing homes and other congregate care facilities: (1) educate all residents and staff about COVID-19 vaccines; (2) offer COVID-19 vaccines to all residents and staff when available; and (3) report the COVID-19 vaccination status of residents and staff to the CDC on a weekly basis (the Interim Final Rule). These requirements apply to all nursing home and group care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds. Comments on the Interim Final Rule are due no later than 5 p.m. on July 12, 2021.

This Interim Final Rule follows on the heels of information released by the CDC which shows that approximately 16% of Medicare or Medicaid-certified facilities (about 2,500) did not participate in the Pharmacy Partnership Program wherein COVID-19 vaccines were delivered onsite to any nursing home facility wishing to participate. Similarly, CDC data shows that less than 20% of nursing homes have voluntarily submitted data regarding COVID-19 vaccination numbers at their facilities. According to CDC statistics, nursing home residents make-up less than 1% of the American population, but have historically accounted for over one-third of all COVID-19 deaths. For these reasons, and others, CMS identified the need to ensure education about COVID-19, and access to vaccines for this vulnerable population, as critical.

A copy of the Interim Final Rule can be found here. Comments can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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